Be on the lookout for harmful algae blooms in natural water this summer

Be on the lookout for harmful algae blooms in natural water this summer


The Blue Ridge Health District is reminding Virginians to use caution when swimming this summer in a natural body of water.

With warmer weather, they warn, harmful algae blooms may pose a health risk to you and your loved ones.

According to the BRHD, harmful algae blooms are normal to water ecosystems but can become harmful when, under certain conditions, they produce toxins that are dangerous to humans, fish, wildlife and pets.

Signs of HABs

  • The water is discolored and has changed color to blue, green, brown, or red
  • Foam, scum, algae mats or oil spill-like streaks float on the surface of the water
  • The water has a foul odor
  • Dead fish or animals float in the water or wash up on the shore

Before swimming in a body of water, examine the area for these signs. If you identify any of them, or see a HAB advisory for the area, avoid the water.

To keep track of reported HABs and advisories in Virginia, visit

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.