Red flags hoisted as blue-green algae spread in northern Estonia ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Cyanobacteria derive their name from their blue-green color. Picture is illustrative.
Cyanobacteria derive their name from their blue-green color. Picture is illustrative. Source: (Põhja-Tallinna linnaosa/Facebook)

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, is spreading on the northern coast of Estonia. The beach guards have hoisted red flags to let people know that swimming is prohibited on the beaches.

The temperature of seawater has increased sharply in the last week creating favorable conditions for the blue-green algae to bloom.

There was still a green flag on Haabneeme beach on Sunday morning which allowed people to swim in the water, but the situation changed in a few hours and the red flag had to be hoisted. The red flag has been already hoisted on Pirita, Stroomi and Kakumäe beachs. 

The Health Board (Terviseamet) warns that cyanobacteria is toxic and can cause health problems in children, elderly people and people who suffer from allergies. 

People may be exposed to cyanobacterial toxins by drinking or bathing in contaminated water. The most frequent and serious health effects are caused by drinking water containing toxins or by ingestion during recreational water contact. 

The symptoms that the toxins of cyanobacteria can occur are skin irritation, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, headache, muscle and joint pain, blisters of the mouth and liver damage. 

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Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein

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