Lake Lawrence again restricted due to toxic algae

Thurston County issues a health warning about the microcystin level


County officials issued a health warning on Lake Lawrence as a result of toxic algae bloom on Fri., Sept. 17,  a month after a similar warning was issued. 

The popular boating and fishing lake is located approximately six miles SE of Rainier and a similar distance south of Yelm.

According to the county’s report, toxic levels in the lake have become a major health concern. Based on the lab results, officials shared that high concentrations of microcystin, a type of liver toxin, was found in the waterbody. Health officials noted that the advisory level for microcystin is at 8.0 ug/L. However, the tests showed that the water contained 15 ug/L, nearly twice the recommended amount.

Microcystin is also considered as a possible human carcinogen. In addition, it can also cause illness to livestock and pets. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), health effects of microcystin exposure can vary from mild rash and in rare occurrence, it may also lead to death.

The EPA noted that people who come into contact with the water affected by the toxic algae bloom may experience skin rashes, respiratory distress, and hay fever-like symptoms. Drinking the water which contains high levels of the microcystin may also cause liver and kidney damage.

Health officials reminded residents to observe the following health guidelines:

  • Avoid areas of scum
  • Avoid drinking water from the lake
  • Avoid coming in contact with the water
  • Avoid other water activities including swimming, wading, windsurfing, and water skiing
  • Keep livestock and pets away from the waterbody
  • Avoid eating fish from the lake.

To ensure public safety, health officials assured that they will continue to conduct weekly tests until the algae bloom is cleared and had posted several warning signs around the area.


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