Publication - Advice and guidance

Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae) in Inland and Inshore Waters: Assessment and Minimisation of Risks to Public Health

Published: 12 Apr 2012
Part of:
Health and social care

Guidance to Directors of Public

Health, to Heads of Environmental Health in Local Authorities (LAs), and to others in

Scotland, on possible risks to public health of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in inland

and inshore waters. It updates previous guidance under the same title that was published

by the Scottish Government Health Directorate previously in 2002, and revised in 2007.

Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae) in Inland and Inshore Waters: Assessment and Minimisation of Risks to Public Health


4.1 A "local action plan" (LAP) should be drawn up for each NHS Board area or, by arrangement, to cover more than one NHS Board area. NHS Boards should therefore take the lead in co-ordinating the provision of such a plan. LAPs should take account of existing multi-agency plans for managing waterborne hazards associated with the public water supply.

4.2 The LAP should be compiled and agreed by the principal stakeholders. These will normally include the Local Authority Environmental Health, Scottish Water, the local NHS Board and SEPA.

4.3 The LAP should include arrangements for the management of cyanobacterial blooms should be documented in a "local cyanobacteria monitoring and action plan" that includes provision for risk assessment; (i) assessing the nature and intensity of algal blooms, shoreline mats, and scums, and (ii) assessments of the risks to human and animal health, risk management options; (iii) remedial and preventative actions that might arise from these assessments and risk communication; (iv) providing information to the public.

4.4 Provisions in each of these topic areas ((i) to (iv) of paragraph 4.3) should be broadly in line with the respective guidance in Sections 5 to 8 of this document.

4.5 Special consideration should be given to provisions for susceptible groups, particularly patients undergoing home or hospital based haemodialysis (Paragraph 7.3).

4.6 The LAP should state clearly the period of time for which it applies and should include provision for updating and re-issue.

4.7 Article 8(2) of the Bathing Water Directive (2006/7/EC) requires management measures to prevent exposure and inform the public in the event of a bloom or suspected bloom at identified bathing waters. It is intended that LAPs will be used as the management measures to fulfil that requirement.

4.8 The format and content for a sample LAP is provided here as Annex D.


Email: Janet Sneddon