Blue-green algae has been found in three area lakes.

Rankin Lake in Sequin, as well as Pickerel and Three Mile lakes in Armour, all tested positive for the stuff.

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit says people need to immediately stop using the water from these lakes for any purpose. That includes drinking, swimming, bathing, and brushing your teeth. You can’t cook with the water either because boiling it will not destroy the toxins. The health unit says you also need to keep your pets away from those lakes.

Cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, is actually tiny bacteria, and not really algae at all. Large masses of the stuff, what are known as “blooms,” can grow during hot weather and the health unit says can be hard to predict. Dense blue-green algae blooms may make the water look bluish-green, or like green pea soup or turquoise paint. Very dense blooms may form solid-looking clumps.

Even when a bloom has disappeared the toxins can linger, which means the health unit can’t really confirm when the water is safe to use again. You can find out more about blue-green algae at myhealthunit.ca or by calling the Health Unit at 705-474-1400, ext. 5400 or 1-800-563-2808.