TRENTON — The state Department of Environmental Protection has developed a strategy for a unified, statewide response to Harmful Algal Bloom, or HAB, in freshwater bodies, officials said.

The blooms can produce toxins that pose health risks to people and animals, officials said.

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Under a new effort called “Avoid It and Report It,” anyone who sees a suspected bloom resulting from cyanobacteria is encouraged to contact the DEP through its toll-free hotline, 1-877-WARNDEP (927-6337), or through the WARN NJDEP app, spokesman Larry Hajna said. The DEP also launched a new HAB website to coordinate information and response activities.

“Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are usually a bright green, but can also appear as spilled paint, pea soup, or as having a thick coating or mat on the surface,” Hajna said. “They can often be confused for typical algae blooms.”

Cyanobacterial blooms do not always produce toxins. When they do, they pose a risk through ingestion, inhaling contaminated water or contact with skin. Rashes can form if cyanobacteria cells come in contact with skin, Hajna said.

Those who encounter a bloom should rinse off the exposed area with fresh water. The DEP also advises to seek medical attention or a veterinarian if a person or animal is experiencing adverse health effects after exposure to a bloom.

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Twitter @_waldy

Waldy Diez joined the Press of Atlantic City's breaking news team in July 2017. She's a graduate of Syracuse and Rowan Universities. Previously, she was a morning tv news producer.

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