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Blue Green Algae Fact Sheet
Background
Blue-green algae are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. Some blue-green algae can produce algal toxins that could pose a health risk to people and animals when they are exposed to them in large enough quantities. This fact sheet answers questions about blue-green algae and algal toxins.

What are blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. They are usually present in low numbers. However, blue-green algae can grow quickly and become very abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface waters that receive a lot of sunlight. When this occurs, they can form blooms that discolor the water or produce floating rafts or scums on the surface of the water. These blooms are primarily a concern during the summer months in Illinois.

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Boaters Work to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species - Eighty-seven percent of boaters and anglers said they remove plants from their boat before leaving the land in 2010 compared to 76 percent in 2009. Adopting this practice is important because boat traffic between lakes is the primary way that aquatic invasive plants such as Eurasian Water Milfoil and Curly-Leaf Pondweed spread to new, uninfected lakes.


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