Friday, July 26, 2013

Shellfish Harvesting Closed in Olympia's Budd Inlet

This advisory is no long in place.
A marine biotoxin that causes diarrhetic shellfish poison (DSP) has been found at unsafe levels in shellfish at Budd Inlet in Thurston County. 
Washington State Department of Health and Thurston County Public Health have closed all of Budd Inlet to recreational shellfish harvesting.  The closure includes lower Budd Inlet (where shellfish harvesting is never advised) and extends all the way out to Boston Harbor and the tip of Cooper Point.  
Warning signs have been posted at public beaches alerting people not to collect shellfish.
What you should know about DSP:
  • DSP biotoxins are produced by naturally occurring algae. They can build up in the flesh of molluscan shellfish, such as clams, mussels, oysters and geoducks and make shellfish unsafe to eat.
  • DSP biotoxins are not destroyed by cooking or freezing.   
  • Symptoms can begin 30 minutes to 12 hours after eating contaminated shellfish. Diarrhea is the most commonly reported symptom but the toxin can also cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.  Most symptoms subside within 72 hours.
  • Shellfish harvested commercially (available in stores and restaurants) are tested for toxins prior to distribution, and are safe to eat.
DSP biotoxin is a new health concern for waters in Washington State. The first confirmed cases of illness caused by DSP in Washington State were in July 2011, when three people got sick after eating shellfish harvested in Sequim Bay in Clallam County. 
This Budd Inlet closure is the first DSP closure to occur in South Puget Sound waters.
Recreational shellfish harvesters should always call the Washington State Department of Health Biotoxin Hotline at 1-800-562-5632 or check the DOH website at before harvesting shellfish anywhere in Washington.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Scatter Creek Community Open House & Workshop on July 30

You are invited to an open house and community workshop about the Scatter Creek Aquifer project, hosted by the Scatter Creek Aquifer Project Citizens Advisory Committee and Thurston County Environmental Health.

When:             Tuesday July 30, 2013
                        6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Where:            Rochester Middle School Commons
                        9937 Highway 12 SW
                        Rochester, WA 98579

Schedule:        Open House: 6:30-7:30 p.m. (includes children’s area)
                        Presentations: 7:30-8:00 p.m.
                        Questions: 8:00- 8:30 p.m.

The Scatter Creek Aquifer is susceptible to groundwater contamination because the area’s sandy, gravelly soils do not filter out contaminants well. Unlike many other areas, there is not a deeper aquifer below, which makes it the only source of drinking water for more than 18,000 residents.

Project activities include groundwater monitoring, groundwater modeling, and meeting regularly with a Citizen Advisory Committee to determine the best course of action to protect drinking water now and in the future. For more information visit the project website

This event is an opportunity for the community to learn more about the project and provide input.  For more information, or to sign up for email updates contact or (360) 867-2582.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Blue-green Algae Blooms

What is a blue-green algae bloom?
Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, reproduce quickly in fresh water when the conditions are right with sunlight, warm temperatures, and nutrients. In a few days, a clear pond or lake can become cloudy with algae growth. This is called a bloom.
A blue-green algae bloom can look like paint floating on the water and it can vary in color from bright green, or a bluish, brownish, or reddish green. These blooms can occur any time of year, but are most common in the summer and fall.

What is a toxic bloom?
Not all blooms are toxic. Some blue-green algae produce toxins or poisons that eventually break down and are destroyed naturally. Ingesting the algae while they are poisonous can cause serious illness.
What if I see a bloom?
If you notice a bloom or signs of poisoning, avoid all contact with water containing algae. Keep children, pets and livestock away from the water. Call Thurston County Environmental Health Division at (360) 867-2626 to report the bloom. If the bloom is outside of Thurston County, call the local health department or Washington State Department of Ecology at (360) 407-6000 to report it.
Contact with Blue-green Algae can be Poisonous!
Blue-green algae can produce nerve toxins and liver toxins. Call your doctor or veterinarian right away if you or your pets have signs of poisoning.

Signs of neurotoxin poisoning appear within 15-20 minutes after ingestion.
- In people, signs may include numbness of the lips, tingling in fingers and toes, and dizziness.
- In animals, signs include weakness, staggering, difficulty breathing, convulsions, and death.

It may be hours or days before signs of liver poisoning appear.
 Liver toxins can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in humans and death in animals.

If a test shows that a bloom is toxic, county health officials will decide whether to issue a health advisory for the lake. Notifications are posted at the lakes. Health officials will continue to test the lake until it is safe to lift the health advisory.
Visit Thurston County Environmental Health Division’s website to check for lake advisories.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tips for Safe Grilling

The sun is out just in time for the holiday! So let’s get out there and enjoy it while it lasts. A traditional sunny day activity is outdoor grilling. There can be a lot of distractions at a BBQ - friends and family to talk to, kids and pets running around, food dishes being passed back and forth… with so much going on, one thing should remain at the top of your list: food safety.
Here are some tips for safe grilling:
  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator - never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. If you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, save a portion separately before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Don’t reuse marinade.
  • Cook immediately after "partial cooking." If you partially cook food to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill. Cook food thoroughly. When it’s time to cook the food, have your food thermometer ready. Always use it to be sure your food is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
  • Keep cooked food hot. Move cooked grilled food to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals to keep it hot until served.
  • Don't reuse platters or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood because bacteria from raw food juices can spread to the cooked food. Have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side to serve your food.
  • Once served, cold food or hot food should not sit out for longer than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90° F. If it does - throw it away. Otherwise, keep cold food at 40°F or lower and hot food at 140°F or higher.
  • Pay special attention to children and pets around the grill to prevent burns or other injuries. If you used any lighter fluid to start your grill, make sure you placed it in a secure location – away from heat, out of reach of children, where it cannot spill.
For more food safety information visit
Thurston County Environmental Health staff wishes everyone a fun, safe, and tasty summer!