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All Mississippi Coast beaches are open and safe to swim in again, MDEQ says

All waters and beaches across the Mississippi Coast are open after being closed this summer for a harmful algae bloom, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality said Friday night.

All 21 beaches as well as the harbors are safe for any contact with the water, MDEQ said in a press release at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

After water sampling showed blue-green algae cells continue to die, the agency “moved to the toxicity testing phase of the protocol this week.”

Results of toxicity tests performed Oct. 2 were received Friday and were all below the EPA guidelines of 8 parts per billion for microcystin toxin, a new standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency in June.

“Since monitoring first verified the presence of a Harmful Algal Bloom, our obligation has been to ensure the public’s health was protected,” said MDEQ Executive Director Gary Rikard. “Today’s results are well below the threshold set to protect public health, and we are extremely pleased that we can lift the water contact warnings. “

There has been no observed evidence of the algae bloom impacting the barrier islands of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, according to the National Park Service. All beaches in the park remain open.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resource’s sampling also indicates that recreational and commercial fishing off-shore in Mississippi waters remains unaffected by the algal bloom and is safe for consumption.

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