Blue-Green Algae "Pond Scum" May Pose Danger if it Comes in Contact With Skin or Ingested

May 21, 2012, 18:09 ET from McCord Research

CORALVILLE, Iowa, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- McCord Research, the parent company of Pinnaclife, warns parents that they should be careful when selecting a swimming location for their children during summer months.  Most farmers are aware of the serious health threats to livestock and heed the blue-green algae warnings issued by state universities and departments of agriculture.


Health alerts are issued by states when they believe that the level of toxins, associated with blue-green algae are potentially unsafe for full-body recreational activities, such as swimming.  Public lakes and beaches are monitored and often closed to swimmers and boaters. 

The "scum" actually is not an algae, but photosynthetic bacteria called cyanobacteria, according to the North Dakota State University Extension Service. On hot summer days, the bacteria "blooms" and can spread quickly. Studies of green blue algae have found that most strains found in brackish lakes and ponds are toxic to humans.(1) Cynobacteria toxin exposure has been known to cause swimmer's ear, irritation and blistering of the skin and throat, pneumonia, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, liver damage and death. (2)   

If you or your children are around area ponds, even if you do not enter the water, Pinnaclife recommends that you apply their specialized Olivamine-containing Skin Repair Cream sold in Hy-Vee stores.  It contains N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) that is a known antidote for cyanobacteria poisoning.(3) Topical NAC protection is vital as the skin is more vulnerable to bacterial attack in the water. While stomach acids do provide some protection internally, without topical NAC protection the skin is defenseless against cyanobacteria toxins.(4) The Skin Repair Cream may offer some protection but caution must be taken.  Also, during the summer months taking Pinnaclife Olivamine supplements, containing N-acetyl-L-cysteine, may give the immune system a boost.  Having a healthy immune system during the summer months when the family is out enjoying water activities is important.  Pinnaclife Olivamine supplements are available at most Hy-Vee stores and at

In livestock and pets, blue-green algae toxins can affect the nervous system, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  Symptoms include muscle tremors, decreased movement and difficulty breathing and convulsions and death.  If any of these symptoms occur after contact with blue-green algae, contact the Poison Hotline (800-222-1222) right away or contact your local veterinarian.  Topical symptoms include dermatitis and immediate medical help should be sought.

Not only is there a risk of coming into contact with blue green algae in local ponds and lakes, it is also sold by some companies as a health supplement or it is found in topical products.(5) In a University of California Berkeley Wellness Alert it especially warns of the risks associated with using blue-green algae products that have algae harvested from the Upper Klamath Lake (AFA) region in southern Oregon.  According to the Berkeley Wellness Alert, "blue-green algae is not a medicine or a good source of nutrients.(6)  Blue-green algae, especially AFA harvested from natural lakes, are easily contaminated with toxins such as microcystins and heavy metals.  Health Canada, the equivalent of the US FDA, found that some supplements had high levels of microcystin and warned consumers – especially those thinking of giving AFA to their children."

Pinnaclife is committed to good science that serves as the foundation for safe and effective topical and nutritional products.

For Further Information:
Darlene McCord, Ph.D.
CEO, CSO, McCord Research

SOURCE McCord Research