As a precaution, Health Canada and the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee are proposing a change to the drinking water guideline, recommending that drinking water authorities advise residents to use an alternate source of drinking water, like bottled water, when preparing infant formula during an algal bloom or when microcystins are detected in drinking water.
This revised advice for infants comes as a result of a collaborative assessment of the science on toxins from algal blooms by Health Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It takes into consideration the possible increased exposure of bottle-fed infants (up to one year of age) to microcystins because of their high intake of water in relation to their bodyweight.
This advice is being shared as algal bloom season approaches in Canada. The recommended change will be formally reviewed as part of a public consultation on the draft drinking water guideline later this year - and as well, updates will be shared.
Microcystins are toxins produced by a certain type of bacteria called cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, are bacteria that form naturally in lakes, rivers and wetlands under the right environmental conditions, i.e. warm, slow moving, shallow water, abundant sunlight and nutrients.
Microcystins can be produced in large quantities during algal blooms and pose a major threat to drinking and irrigation water supplies, as well as the environment at large.
Certain species of cyanobacteria produce toxins that are stored in their cells and can be released in water when the cells rupture or die. These toxins can pose a risk affecting the liver or the nervous system of humans and animals.
If you have any questions or comments, please click on Report a Concern.