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An English Town Had to Dye This Beautiful Lagoon Black to Get People to Stop Swimming in It

The lagoon is so blue it attracts visitors from all over. The problem is that the lagoon is incredibly toxic.

(Alix Williams)

Sometimes, things are just too beautiful. Such is the case for the Blue Lagoon of Buxton, England. The lagoon is so blue it attracts visitors from all over. The problem is that the lagoon is incredibly toxic. And yet, despite warnings all over, people still swam in it. Which left Buxton with no choice but to dye the lagoon black.

Atlas Obscura explains the danger of the lagoon, caused from residue left by industry:

In the case of the blue lagoon, calcium oxide, used as part of the quarrying process has left the lagoon with a pH of 11.3, compared to Ammonia’s pH of 11.5 and bleach’s pH of 12.6. If that is not enough, the site has been used as a dumping ground.

If you visit the lagoon, there are ample warning signs, Atlas Obscura reports: “Warning! Polluted water Lagoon known to contain: Car Wrecks, Dead Animals, Excrement, Rubbish” says one. ” Warning! Do not enter water, due to high pH levels. This can cause: Skin and eye irritations, Stomach Problems, Fungal infections such as thrush” says another. And the most desperate sounding of all: “Think! would you swim in ammonia or bleach?”

Turns out, people didn’t really want to think and would still go into the lagoon regardless of the signs. Here is one woman posing in the lake.

(Alix Williams)

The locals hope the lagoon will be closed, but the water is too toxic to be removed, according to officials. So in June of this year, they dyed the lake black, to keep people from swimming. ” So far the plan seems to be working — according to locals,” writes Atlas Obscura,  “disappointed weekend road trippers have been turning back when they spot the newly inky lagoon.”

More from Smithsonian:

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2.5 Million Gallons of Toxic Waste Just Spilled in Alberta

About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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