Potential algae bloom blamed for itchy eyes, sore throats

Unpleasant smell near Lake Buchanan could be result of potentially toxic algae

Published On: Nov 16 2012 11:38:07 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 20 2012 05:43:45 PM EST
ORLANDO, Fla. -

Hundreds of apartments surround Lake Buchanan in Orlando, the site of a potentially toxic algae bloom.

The lake is near Holden Avenue and Rio Grande Avenue just off I-4.

People in the area told Local 6's Lisa Bell the smell Lake Buchanon is horrendous. Even worse, residents who live around the lake said they're also experiencing side effects of an apparent blue green algae bloom.

"I'm sneezing and my nose is running and my eyes are all watery like, or itchy," said Tasha Jones, who has a lakefront apartment.

The bloom is naturally occurring, but man-made factors like fertilizer and storm run-off can make it worse.

"Even people like walking along on the sidewalks, you'll see them coming by like, 'What's that smell?,'" said Jones.

"The algae bloom can last anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks," said Julie Bortles, a supervisor with Orange County's Environmental Protection Division.

On Friday, Bortles took water samples from the lake to figure out which type of blue green algae is in the lake. There are several types of blue green algae and some are toxic.

"The smell is probably not dangerous, but actual physical contact with the algae could be," said Bortles.

If the algae is toxic, drinking the water, or eating fish from the lake, could cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even damage to the liver, kidneys and nervous system.

The county should have the test results by the middle of next week. If the algae is toxic, they'll post signs warning people not to touch the water.