The Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks has confirmed the presence of toxic blue-green algae in three regional lakes.

Residents are warned to avoid Spruce Lake and Muriel Lake near Kenora, as well as Abram Lake in Sioux Lookout.

As it stands, residents are asked to assume that toxins are present in the three lakes. Do not drink the water, and avoid swimming or using the water for household use. If contact does occur, wash with soap and water, or thoroughly rinse with clean water to remove the algae.

After swimming in lakes with toxic blue-green algae, humans may experience stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea and skin rashes. Nerve and liver damage has also been reported following long-term exposure.

Residents are being asked to avoid the lakes for a minimum of two weeks after the algae bloom has disappeared before using water or drinking from the lake.

The NWHU notes that residential water treatment systems may not remove the toxins and should not be relied upon in a bloom event. Also, do not boil the water as this can cause an increase in toxins.

Blue-green algae blooms commonly occur in late summer and early fall. They thrive in areas where the water is shallow, slow-moving and warm, but may be present in deeper, cooler water.

Phosphorous in the water contributes to the formation of algae, which can adversely affect water quality and human health. Phosphorus is a nutrient that is contained in common items like detergents, fertilizers, manure, human waste and decaying plants.

If you spot a blue-green algae bloom, you are asked to report it to the Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.