Low levels of toxic algae were found in Salem's drinking water, leading the authorities to suggest that parents should not give tap water to children under the age of six.
Statesman Journal

The officials of the city of Salem issued a do-not-drink advisory on Tuesday after discovering a low level of drinking water in the city Pulled North Santiam River.

Counseling concerns children under the age of 6 and vulnerable populations, such as nursing mothers and dialysis patients. Officials urge them to drink bottled water.

Is there anything that can be done to treat the water so that it is safe to drink?

David Farrer, a health toxicologist at the Oregon Health Authority, said that it really does not work. It's nothing to do done to treat the water.

The boiling of the water does not work; Camping filters do not work; nor do the filters that connect to faucets. Farrer said that it is best for children and others in vulnerable groups not to drink the water until the recommendation is lifted.

What are Cyanotoxins?

A common bacterium called cyanobacteria sometimes produces a natural poison called cyanotoxins. In mammals, exposure to cyanotoxins can cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems, and acute diseases, including liver and kidney damage, according to U.S. Pat. Cause geological survey. In extreme exposure, symptoms such as organ failure, paralysis and even death can occur

MORE: Salem drinking water contaminated, children should not drink tap water

How long are the restrictions on drinking water expected to last?

"I can not give you a definitive answer," said Lacey Goeres-Priest, Salem's water quality supervisor, the Statesman Journal.

City officials said in an online report, "City Salem is working closely with local and state health and emergency organizations to improve the situation and rapidly reduce cyanotoxin levels in tap water."

"Salem City post an updated notice if: the cyanotoxin content is lower than or equal to national drinking water health reports, this non – drinking recommendation is lifted and / or there are changes to the conditions of this drinking recommendation.

"Updates will be released on Thursday, 31. May 2018 via the City of Salem website, City of; Alarm system of the city of Salem; Local media; City of Salem Social Media. Residents can log in to to receive emergency notifications from the city.

Detroit Lake Health Advisory was issued last week when officials learned that river water was a problem

Water was sampled late Last week, officials received the results of the water tests on Saturday, Goeres-Priest said The results showed that toxins were higher than a health advisory level for vulnerable communities and children, but remained below safe levels for adults.

The city voted with the Oregon Health Authority over the weekend.

Salem on Tuesday Having agreed with the OHA and the Environmental Protection Agency, he issued the data-based advisory.

"We wanted to be proactive because we come for 10 days exposure time – when people are confronted with it for 10 days, the probability increases of health problems, "said Greg Walsh, emergency manager for the city of Salem.

MORE: Health Advisory for Detroit Lake Issued Following the Discovery of Toxic Algae

Detroit Reservoir has algal blooms each year. Why is it that bad this year?

"Every flower is different," said Goeres-Priest.

She said it depends, among other things, on how high the toxins are in the watershed and whether toxins are being formed all the way down to the water treatment plant.

"It's hard to say why this year is different from last year," said Goeres-Priest. "We only know that this is the case because of the sample results."

Three toxic blooms were identified at locations around Detroit Lake – on the blowout arm, on the Heater Creek Arm, and near the dam. That's more than in the past.

The flowering in blowout arm had a particularly high concentration of toxins, officials said. A liver toxin called "microcystin" was tested on May 23 at 48.21 parts per billion at this location. A health consultation is triggered when the values ​​are only 4 parts per billion.

What is recommended for expectant or nursing mothers?

Farrer said he has no good data on whether toxins can be transmitted from a nursing mother to her baby. But officials definitely do not want mothers to drink the water – they should be bottled with water.

He said breastfeeding in this case was preferable to making formula with tap water.

Buy photo

Mark Schonbrun, 72, and Linda Schonbrun, 66, of West Salem, buy water after a tap water pollution warning for people in Salem at WinCo Foods on Lancaster in Salem on Tuesday, May 29, 2018. "People were pushing, it was a madhouse," said Mark Schonbrun. (Photo: ANNA REED / Statesman Journal)

Can I use my water filtration system to clean the water?

"Most water filters and water filters will not remove this poison from drinking water," the report says. "See manufacturer's recommendation for water filtration capabilities."

What do Salem-Keizer public schools do for water for students and staff?

Kindergarten and younger children, as well as other vulnerable children (such as those who are medically fragile) will be provided bottled water, said Joel Smallwood, manager of maintenance and construction services with Salem-Keizer Public Schools.

Schools on Keizer's water system are not affected.

Food services become bottled water for all food He said, "We now have a team that delivers to us," said Smallwood.

MORE: Bottle shortage in Salem after toxic substances in tap water

Which cities outside Salem are affected by drinking water restrictions?

Stayton and Turner agree with Salem's Water Consulting.

"We're testing our water," said Keith Campbell, Stayton's City Manager. "I do not know if it's as common as Salem, but our tests did not show anything."

Still, "We're just following the advisories with the city of Salem," he said.

David Sawyer, Turner's city administrator, said Salem officials contacted his city last week and told them about the concern.

"All the water that comes to Salem, basically, we use those lines when they come through the canyon, it's the same system," Sawyer said. "Because of the size of our distribution system, we test for E. coli, and we test for chlorine and things like that, just to make sure."

What about restaurants?

Farrer said that restaurants that use city water should not use the water to serve customers.

Health officials also advise against using the water for cooking and washing food, he said.

Why is it safe to bathe and wash dishes with water?

City officials said the water was fine for cleaning, bathing, and washing dishes, and for cleaning laundry, handwashing, and toilet flushing.

"Infants and toddlers under the age of six should, however, be supervised during bathing and during other tap water activities to prevent accidental ingestion of water," the consulting states said.

Farrer said that these toxins are not absorbed through the skin and the only way for them to get in people is when they are swallowed.

Healing Officials recommend that children who are being bathed be supervised to ensure that they do not drink the water, Farrer said.

Even so, a small amount of consumption will not be detrimental, like the amount you swallow when you wash your face, or that bit of water that comes into your mouth when you shower,

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