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NJ HAB Response Strategy Document


  Bureau of Freshwater & Biological Monitoring


Advisory Guidance/Alert Levels

Recreational Advisory Guidance Levels
(Details can be found in the Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Bloom (HABs) Freshwater Recreational Response Strategy Appendix E)

In response to Governor Murphy's HAB initiative, the DEP has developed a color-coded alert index with signage that provides much greater precision on recreational use recommendations for impacted water bodies based on levels of cyanobacteria and/or cyanotoxins present. The index has multiple alert categories, each providing recommendations of activities that should not be pursued based on water monitoring results.


The following are NJ's Health Advisory Guidance levels.

Toxins:

  • Microcystins - 3 g/L
  • Cylindrospermopsin - 8 g/L
  • Anatoxin-a - 27 g/L


Suggested Advisory Language

Advisories below may be used by government and non-government entities to alert the public for risk.

  • Advisory language is based on the NJ Health Advisory Guidance levels.
  • Intended to be protective for a range of exposures that are most likely to occur
  • When posting advisories, it is recommended to err on the side of caution to avoid unnecessary risk to the public.
  • If necessary, it is suggested that the language be tailored to the specific HAB occurrence and waterbody use.

Click any of the images for printable versions of the advisory language below.

Tiered Alert Levels

HAB ALERT LEVEL

CRITERIA

RECOMMENDATIONS

Sign Download

None

HAB report investigated and no HAB found

None

None

WATCH
Suspected or confirmed HAB
with potential for allergenic and
irritative health effects

Suspected HAB based on visual assessment or screening test
OR
Lab confirmed cell counts between 20k - 40k cells/mL
AND
No known toxins above public health thresholds

Public Bathing Beaches Open (dependent upon local health authority evaluation and assessment)

Waterbody Accessible:
Use caution during primary contact (e.g. swimming) and secondary (e.g. non-contact boating) recreational activities

Do not ingest water (people/pets/livestock)
Do not consume fish



ALERT
Confirmed HAB that requires greater observation due to increasing potential for toxin production
PUBLIC BATHING BEACHES INCREASE MONITORING

Lab confirmed cell counts between 40k - 80k cells/mL
AND
No known toxins above public health threshold
WATCH remains in effect.
Public Bathing Beaches Open (dependent upon local health authority evaluation and assessment) and should observe and report changing bloom conditions

Waterbody Accessible:
Use caution during primary contact (e.g. swimming) and secondary (e.g. non-contact boating) recreational activities
Do not ingest water (people/pets/livestock)
Do not consume fish


ADVISORY
Confirmed HAB with moderate risk of adverse health effects and increased potential for toxins above public health thresholds
Lab testing for toxins exceeds public health thresholds OR
Lab confirmed cell counts above 80K cells/mL OR
Field measurement evidence indicating HAB present and above guidance thresholds (e.g. phycocyanin readings)
Public Bathing Beaches Closed   
Waterbody Remains Accessible:
Avoid primary contact recreation (e.g. swimming)
Use caution for secondary contact recreation (e.g. boating without water contact)
Do not ingest water (people/pets/livestock)
Do not consume fish


WARNING
Confirmed HAB with high risk of adverse health effects due to high toxin levels
Toxin (microcystin) 20 - 2000 ug/l
AND/OR
Additional evidence, including, expanding bloom, increasing toxin levels (i.e. duration, spatial extent or negative human or animal health impacts) indicates that additional recommendations are warranted
Public Bathing Beaches Closed   
Waterbody Remains Accessible:
Avoid primary contact recreation (e.g. swimming)
May recommend against secondary contact recreation (e.g. boating without water contact) with additional evidence
Do not ingest water (people/pets/livestock)
Do not consume fish


DANGER
Confirmed HAB with very high risk of adverse health effects due to very high toxin levels
Toxin (microcystin) > 2000 ug/l
AND/OR
Additional evidence, including, expanding bloom, increasing toxin levels (i.e. duration, spatial extent or negative human or animal health impacts) indicates that additional recommendations are warranted
Public Bathing Beaches Closed   
Possible closure of all or portions of waterbody and possible restrictions access to shoreline.
Avoid primary contact recreation (e.g. swimming)
May recommend against secondary contact recreation with additional evidence
Do not ingest water (people/pets/livestock)
Do not consume fish

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Last Updated: June 22, 2020