Research

Florida scientists study exposure to toxic algae

February 24, 2020
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

toxic algae bloom

A toxic algae bloom in southern Florida.
Photo: Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post via AP

Paul Brinkmann reports for UPI.com that Florida Atlantic University and three other research schools have launched studies this year to test people who live near the coast for long-term exposure to algae toxins.

Public awareness that blue-green algae can be deadly has grown in recent years due to fish kills around algae blooms and even pet deaths. No human deaths have been reported, but algae-related illness has driven people to doctors.

The blooms happen around the state and nationwide, said Adam Schaefer, an epidemiologist at the university’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, in Fort Pierce. “It’s important we do this research carefully and get that information into the hands of folks in the communities that are affected.”

To accomplish that goal, residents on Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts are getting nasal swabs and urine and blood tests to detect signs of the algae toxins — called microcystin in blue-green algae and brevetoxin in red tide algae.

Dr. Schaefer said scientific studies have shown for years that the toxins found in algae are associated with liver damage and liver disease, along with skin rashes, headaches and troubled breathing. “We really don’t have good data documenting the impact over a longer term and comparing that to what is going on in the environment,” he said.

Dr. Schaefer conducted preliminary tests on human secretions during a severe algae bloom in summer 2018. That research found microcystin in the nasal passages of 95 percent of the participants. Of 86 urine samples taken, microcystins were found in three. Dr. Schaefer then concluded that the toxins entered noses after becoming airborne.

The first official results from that study were published in the February issue of the online journal Harmful Algae. Despite the conclusive results of that study, Dr. Schaefer said much still is not known about the impact on human health.
“Just because it’s in the nose doesn’t mean it’s being absorbed in the body,” he said. “The urine shows us what is being expelled from the body. We’re really starting from scratch.”

“We all know blue-green algae is an eyesore disturbing the water and recreation opportunities,” said Howard Voss, chief executive officer of the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic in Stuart, Fla., which works with FAU to conduct human tests. “But does it cause disease? Is it only having an effect on fishing and boats and vacations, or is it really causing long-term health damage?”

Other schools that are studying long-term algae impact with the new state funding are Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of Miami and the University of Florida.

Read More

More Like This…

Copyright ©2010-2020 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission required to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

twittertopbarlinks_eventstopbarlinks_requesttopbarlinks_archives

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
Karly Graham reports that Michigan State University researchers are testing algae hibernation to optimize the plant’s ability to be used for biofuel production. Algae pro...
Baillargues, France’s Microphyt, a leading company in microalgae-based natural solutions for nutrition and well-being, has announced a fundraising of €28.5 million (US$32...
The Algae Biomass Organization (ABO) reports the introduction of the Algae Agriculture Act of 2018 (H.R. 5373), a bill that would give algae cultivators and harvesters ma...
Jessica D'Lima writes in AdvancedScienceNews.com that medicine is moving towards minimally invasive procedures, which have important patient-oriented benefits such as sho...
Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and partner institutions have provided the first published report of algae using raw plants as a carbon energy source. The r...
London-based architectural and urban design firm ecoLogicStudio www.ecologicstudio.com, led by Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto, has unveiled Photo.Synth.Etica, a large...
Bloomberg News reports that a newly approved Chinese drug for Alzheimer’s will start clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe this year as the country’s first novel therapy...
French researchers have been exploring the potential of algae for boosting the immune systems of animals and reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock farming. Past st...
Edinburgh-based biotech startup MiAlgae has received an investment of £1 million ($1.3USD) to focus on the commercialization of its microalgae products that use co-produc...
E.A. Crunden writes in thinkprogress.org that Florida’s first gubernatorial debate was dominated by environmental and climate issues, with an emphasis on the state’s alga...
New Food Magazine reports that a new Danish project called “Microalgae for Food” has received DKK 750,000 (approximately $110,000US) in co-financing from the Ministry of ...
Amy Thompson writes in Space.com that SpaceX successfully launched its 15th Space Station cargo-resupply mission on Friday, June 29; carrying a payload of experiments des...