Water-Related News

Study: Florida HABs produce multiple toxins detrimental to human health

According to an independent research institute, cyanobacterial blooms released downstream from Lake Okeechobee coincided with red tides placing Florida's west coast in a toxic vise

JACKSON, WYOMING - In 2018, cyanobacteria from nutrient-rich waters in Lake Okeechobee were released down the Caloosahatchee river at the same time that red tides were gathering along the Florida west coast, potentially exposing coastal residents to a mixture of toxins. In 2018, releases of cyanobacterial-laden freshwater from Lake Okeechobee transported a large bloom of Microcystis cyanobacteria down the Caloosahatchee. Analysis of water samples showed high concentrations of microcystin-LR, sufficient to result in adverse human and animal health effects if ingested, based on the known toxicity of this cyanotoxin.

The microcystin liver toxin was being produced by Microcystis, while at the same time, potent neurotoxins called brevetoxin were released from the marine dinoflagellate Karenia brevis in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, BMAA, a neurotoxin suspected of being linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS and Alzheimer's disease, was detected in samples of cyanobacteria, dinoflagellates, and diatoms along the Caloosahatchee and west coast. Furthermore, cyanobacterial mats collected on the west coast in 2019 also showed high concentrations of BMAA to be present. Together, these new findings highlight the potential for multiple, potentially toxic blooms to co-exist with unknown implications for human and animal health.