Algae blooms force Poland to shut down 50 Baltic Sea beaches

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Thinking of a dip in the Baltic Sea to cool off from the unusually balmy European weather? It’s too hot for that.

Authorities in Poland on Thursday banned swimming at over 50 beaches along its Baltic coast, after hot weather led to the toxic growth of bacteria in the unusually warm sea.

Emergency water rescuers told vacationers on the hot sandy beaches – from Swinoujsce in the west to Gdynia in the east – not to enter the sea, where thick green-brown cyanobacteria colonies have grown and pose a health threat.

Regional sanitation authorities have issued warnings that contact with the bacteria may cause allergies and rashes. Drinking contaminated water can also lead to serious digestive problems.

The Baltic Sea has not seen such intense growth of cyanobacteria for 12 years. It results from exceptionally high air temperatures of 34 degrees Celsius (93.2 degrees Fahrenheit) that have raised the temperatures of the usually cold Baltic.

A similar ban has been issued for some inland lakes and reservoirs, such as the Zegrze Resevoir near Warsaw.

In Finland, the Loviisa nuclear power plant said in a statement it briefly reduced energy production in both its units Wednesday to prevent the Baltic Sea water that cools its infrastructure from getting too warm. It said there was no danger to people or the environment.

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