Current water conditions make this an ideal time for blue-green algae growth, and Illinois health officials warn some can be toxic.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) are asking Illinois residents to be more vigilant about where they boat, ski, and swim this summer due to blue-green algae "blooms" that are occurring in Illinois' lakes and rivers.

Officials point out that while most blue-green algae is harmless, some can produce toxic chemicals that cause sickness or other health effects in people and pets, depending on the amount and type of exposure.

My Stateline:

Sensitive individuals, including young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk to adverse health effects attributable to algal toxins.

Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, or wheezing. More severe symptoms may result from longer or greater amounts of exposure.

People who plan to recreate in or on Illinois lakes or rivers this summer are advised to avoid contact with water that:

• looks like spilled, green or blue-green paint;
• has surface scums, mats, or films;
• is discolored or has green-colored streaks; or
• has greenish globs suspended in the water below the surface.

People are also advised to keep children and pets out of the water. Do not allow pets to drink from the water and do not allow them to lick their fur after swimming in water containing a blue-green algae bloom.