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Summer conditions growing toxic algae blooms in two California lakes

Summer conditions growing toxic algae blooms in two California lakes
Streaks of a blue-green algae bloom in the Pit River Arm of Shasta Lake in Northern California. A similar bloom was detected in Pyramid Lake last month but has since subsided, officials said. (Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board)

Visitors to Pyramid Lake this week are being urged to avoid touching the water because of a large algae bloom pumping toxins into the lake.

Flourishing because of  warm temperatures, calm conditions and plenty of sunlight, the blue-green algae bloom was detected Tuesday near the recreational swimming area and triggered the warning a day later, the state Department of Water Resources said.

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Visitors can still move across the water on a boat but are advised to be extremely careful because the toxins in the water can turn into vapor that can be inhaled if the lake surface is churned up, officials said.

Boiling the water does not remove the toxins — so don't drink it, the agency said.

Eating fish or shellfish from the lake is not recommended, but if a person is going to eat marine life from the water, authorities say, the guts and liver must be removed and the fillet washed clean with fresh water.

The conditions can change day to day, but visitors are urged to be cautious throughout the summer when the conditions are ripe for the algae.  A similar notice went out to visitors of the Pit River Arm of Shasta Lake in Northern California on Thursday.

Blue-green algae appears as bright green in the water, with streaks that look like spilled paint. It can also appear as blue-green, white or brown foam or scum that can float on the water or accumulate along shore, state officials said.

In high concentrations, the toxins in the algae can cause skin rashes, irritate the eyes, nose, mouth or throat, and trigger headaches and gastrointestinal issues.

Pyramid Lake is north of Castaic Lake in Los Angeles County along the 5 Freeway.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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