Water-Related News

Public comment sought on CDC plan to study Lake O algae exposure

ATLANTA — The Centers for Disease Control is seeking public comment on a proposed study of persons exposed to algae in Lake Okeechobee.

CDC-2019-0079, published Sept. 17 in the Federal Register, proposes a collection project titled “Aerosols from cyanobacterial blooms: Exposures and health effects in a highly exposed population.”

CDC will accept written comments up to Nov. 18, 2019.

Algae blooms are a problem in lakes nationwide, according to the CDC. Anglers who regularly fish Lake Okeechobee question the assumption those fishing the Big O are a “highly exposed population.”

Why was Lake Okeechobee chosen? The CDC study is the result of a May 7 closed-door meeting where Congressman Francis Rooney hosted “selected” federal, state and Lee County area leaders to discuss harmful algae blooms. Gov. Ron DeSantis was at that meeting. Members of the press were not allowed at the meeting, which was closed to the public. Protesters outside the meeting held signs calling the closed-door meeting “dirtier than polluted water.”

According to the proposal: “CDC will conduct a study of 50 people highly exposed to cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms to assess exposure of CyanoHAB aerosols and determine if exposure is associated with health symptoms and/or outcomes.”