Health Canada and the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Committee on Drinking Water have updated their advice to parents of young infants who are using the public supply of water to prepare powdered infant formula during periods when algal toxin levels are high.
The country’s existing drinking water guidelines set a maximum level for algal toxins in drinking water that is considered to be safe. As a precaution, the two bodies are recommending that water authorities advise residents to use bottled water when preparing infant formula during times of algal bloom, or when microcystins are detected in the water.
Microcystins are toxins produced by a species of the cyanobacteria bacterium – also called blue-green algae – that can pose a risk to the health of humans and animals, affecting the liver or nervous system.
The revised advice for infants comes as a result of a collaborative assesment 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 the age of one to microcystins, because of their high intake of water in relation to their bodyweight.
The advice is being shared ahead of Canada’s algal bloom season.
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