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‘Urging caution’: DEQ reports lab tests reveal cyanotoxins in Payette Lake

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is ‘urging caution’ after lab tests showed cyanotoxins in Payette Lake’s North Beach lakebed.

BoiseDev previously reported DEQ was testing three areas of Payette Lake for cyanobacteria after a dog became ill. Test results from the northwestern area of the lake, a section between Brown Park and Mile High Marina, and the western edge of North Beach did not ‘reveal any toxins’.

National test results, however, revealed a different type of cyanobacteria in North Beach.

“Test results indicated that the North Beach benthic cyanobacteria—also known as bottom-dwelling cyanobacteria—contain low levels of cyanotoxins but may still cause illness if directly consumed,” the DEQ news release said. “Cyanotoxins produced by benthic cyanobacteria are not typically identified using standard lab tests.”

[Dog becomes ill after swimming in Payette Lake, prompting algae bloom concern]

New toxins

DEQ said two of the identified toxins are ‘relatively new to science’. This means that there is not a lot of information available.

“Since the toxins are thought to be contained within the cyanobacteria cells, not the water column, the levels are not high enough to issue a health advisory but the public should use caution when recreating in the North Beach area,” the news release said. “Dogs that tend to ingest or chew on things are particularly at risk of toxin exposure. Please be aware of what your animals may come into contact with and do not let them eat things you didn’t provide.”

The DEQ reported that the benthic cyanobacteria is proof of Payette Lake’s high water quality. This type of bacteria only lives at the bottom of the lake so the water must be clear enough to allow light to pass through.

“While other lakes experience planktonic HABs, the cyanobacteria found growing on the bottom of the North Beach are not widespread and they were difficult to find,” the news release said.

To read more about cyanobacteria, click here. For information about drinking water from rivers and lakes, click here.

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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