Harmful Algal Blooms
HABs are defined as the overgrowth of microscopic algae within bodies of water. HABs can occur naturally, but they are becoming more common due to factors such as agricultural and warm environmental temperatures. HABs can generate toxins posing a threat to human health, wildlife and the environment. Florida’s freshwaters are affected by blue-green algae during the warmer months of the year. Blue-green algae produce particularly toxic compounds such as Microcystin which can cause respiratory, digestive distress, and in severe cases liver damage.
Currently, limited information exists regarding the long-term health effects of exposures to cyanotoxins produced from blue-green algae. Most of the research on toxins associated with HABs has focused on the acquired toxins from consumption (seafood). By establishing a long-term cohort study, DISPEL can examine the potency of HAB exposure for different communities that live and work near contaminated water.