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Ohio HABs Advisories
No fishing sign

When levels of toxic algae become too high in either drinking water or recreational water in Ohio, an advisory may be posted. Advisories are posted in order to protect the health of the public including both humans and animals. 

Expand the sections below to learn more about the different kinds of advisories that may be issued for HABs-contaminated drinking water and HABs-contaminated recreational water.

 

Advisories for HABs-Contaminated Recreational Waters

The state of Ohio issues two types of Recreational Water Advisories depending upon the level of HABs toxins in such waters:

  • A Recreational Public Health Advisory when toxin levels exceed the recommended threshold, and beach signs warn that an algal bloom is present and/or algal toxins have been detected.  Swimming or wading is not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, those with certain medical conditions and pets.

  • An Elevated Recreational Public Health Advisory when toxin levels exceed the recommended threshold.  Beach signs note that all contact with water should be avoided and algal toxins at unsafe levels have been detected.

 

The table below shows what levels of different kinds of toxins would be needed in order to issue each of the two types of advisories. Note: All values are reported in μg/L (micrograms per liter), which is equal to 1 ppb (part per billion).

Type of Advisory Microcystin Anatoxin-a Cylindrospermopsin Saxitoxin

Recreational Public Health Advisory

 

A sign is posted on beaches warning that an algal bloom is present and/or algal toxins have been detected. Swimming or wading is not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, those with certain medical conditions, and pets. 

6 μg/L

80 μg/L

5 μg/L 0.8 μg/L

Elevated Recreational Public Health Advisory

 

A sign is posted on beaches warning algal toxins at unsafe levels have been detected and that all contact with the water should be avoided.

20 μg/L 300 μg/L 20 μg/L 3 μg/L

 

Ohio Beachguard provides a list of current public health advisories and water quality information for recreational waters. Click here to visit the Beachguard webpage.


B y following the links below, you can access the actual signage used in Ohio recreational waters.

  • General Signs. These signs will be posted at state park beaches and boat ramps. The white sign describes what a harmful algal bloom looks like and advises that people be on the alert and avoid them. Download the General Algae Sign (PDF).

  • Recreational Public Health Advisory. An orange Recreational Public Health Advisory will be added to the white sign when a HAB is visually confirmed and/or when cyanotoxin toxin levels are equal to or exceed Recreational Public Health Advisory threshold. It indicates that an algal bloom has been detected, and that swimming and wading are not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, those with certain medical conditions and pets. Download the Recreational Public Health Advisory Sign (PDF).

  • Elevated Recreational Public Health Advisory. A red sign will be added to the white sign when HAB toxin levels are equal to or exceed the Elevated Recreational Public Health Advisory threshold. It advises that algal toxins at unsafe levels have been detected and to avoid all contact with the water. Download the Elevated Recreational Public Health Advisory (PDF).

 

Advisories for HABs-Contaminated Drinking Water

Ohio communities and/or public water systems issue two types of Drinking Water Advisories depending upon the level of HABs toxins in the finished drinking water:

  • A Do Not Drink Advisory for bottle-fed infants and children younger than school age, pregnant women, nursing mothers, individuals with pre-existing liver conditions, and individuals receiving dialysis treatment. 

  • A Do Not Drink Advisory for all people of all ages as well as for pets and livestock.

The table below shows what levels of different kinds of toxins would be needed in order to issue each of the two types of advisories. Note: All values are reported in μg/L (micrograms per liter), which is equal to 1 ppb (part per billion).

Type of Advisory Microcystins* Anatoxin-a Cylindrospermopsin Saxitoxins*

Do Not Drink Advisory for:

  • Bottle-fed infants and children younger than school age
  • Pregnant women
  • Nursing mothers
  • individuals with pre-existing liver conditions
  • Individuals receiving dialysis treatment

As a precautionary measure, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems may want to consider using an alternate water source as well.

0.3 μg/L 20 μg/L 0.7 μg/L 0.3 μg/L

Do Not Drink Advisory for:

  • All people of all ages
  • Pets
  • Livestock
1.6 μg/L 20 μg/L 3.0 μg/L 1.6 μg/L
Do Not Use 20 μg/L 300 μg/L 20 μg/L 3 μg/L

*Microcystins and saxitoxins thresholds are intended to be applied to total concentrations of all reported congeners/variants of those cyanotoxins.

 

During a drinking water advisory, an alternative water source, such as bottled water, should be used for:

  • Drinking
  • Making infant formula
  • Making ice
  • Preparing food
  • Brushing teeth

 

During a drinking water advisory, healthy individuals may continue to use the water for:

  • Washing hands
  • Bathing (Note: Children five years old and younger should be supervised when bathing to prevent accidental ingestion.)
  • Washing dishes
  • Doing laundry

 

Skin irritation, such as a rash may occur from exposure when washing hands and bathing.

 

Providing a final rinse of skin with uncontaminated water (like bottled water) is recommended, especially for items that go into the mouths of infants and children under the age of six years (i.e., teething rings, nipples, bottles, toys, silverware).

 

Do not boil the water. Boiling the water will not remove the toxins, and does not make HABs-contaminated water safe to drink.

 

For public health guidance regarding HABs drinking water advisories in specific settings, including medical facilities, hotels, and schools, click here.