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Environment watchdog warns of rising algae risk as weather heats up

Water heavily infested with algal blooms can cause skin and eye irritation, nausea and other allergic reactions, the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE warned.

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A raft of blue-green algae at Lemäsaari in Kotka, southeast Finland. Image: Kiira Ikävalko-Lindqvist

Forecasts for sizzling weather into next week will likely speed up blue-green algae growth, says the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE. The organisation said Thursday that sightings of blue-green algae in southwest and southern sea areas have increased markedly in recent days.

SYKE’s national algae monitoring system indicates that surface blooms of blue-green algae have been observed in the southern part of the Archipelagic Sea and especially in sections of the Gulf of Finland between Porvoo and Kotka on the southeast coast.

SYKE has predicted that the amount of algae could increase significantly if meteorological forecasts for very warm and still weather hold true.

According to the Finnish Meteorological Institute FMI, algae colonies in the open sea could primarily travel towards the west and south. Prevailing winds will also determine how much algae moves inshore towards beaches.

Protect young kids and pets from algae

Officials have also detected considerable amounts of blue-green algae in lake waters, with blooms appearing to be more abundant than usual for the time of year.

Monitoring stations recorded particularly high quantities of blue-green algae at Mallusjärvi in Orimattila in southern Finland and at Tuusulanjärvi bordering Tuusula and Järvenpää, also in the south.

SYKE pointed out that holidaymakers should exercise caution in waters where blue-green algae is present as the growths could produce a variety of nerve and liver toxins.

Water heavily infested with algal blooms can cause skin and eye irritation, nausea and other allergic reactions. Small children and pets in particular should not be allowed to come into contact with the growths, SYKE warned.

The organisation also cautioned vacationers against using water tainted by algae colonies for washing up, watering plants and in the sauna.

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