The results revealed toxins in the air after researchers from Florida Gulf Coast University set up two separate testing locations in response to the blue-green algae collecting in Southwest Florida water.
The bad: toxins were found in all different size particles, big and small, at both the Cape Coral collection location nearest the Cyanobacteria bloom and at the Bonita Springs Vester Field location of FGCU.
The research team from FGCU set up the primary testing on a Cape Coral canal filled with blue-green algae for a two week period beginning in late September.
“We could detect toxins in very, very small particles that will go all the way down into your air sacs which is where you have an exchange with your bloodstream,” Dr. Parsons said. “The vehicle is there for the toxins to get all the way into your lungs, which would represent the biggest concern and biggest threat, but it was at low levels in all of the size fractions so it’s not a threat right now.”
“The fact that we saw it [in Bonita Springs] suggests that there might be a background level that we’re seeing all over the area,” said Parsons. “That suggests we may be dealing with background concentrations.”
“Again a very low level that doesn’t appear to represent any kind of health risk,” Dr. Parsons explained. There are limited human studies connected to Cyanobacteria and Microcystin, but Dr. Parsons and his team reviewed several studies involving mice and sheep.
“What it suggests is that for people to be affected with this low level of toxin would take 350 years of breathing it in,” Dr. Parsons said.
“If and when there’s another large Cyanobacteria bloom it’s something we’ll look at more closely,” he said. “It was basically a confirmation step, saying yes this is something we should be looking at more closely.”
“These are extremely low concentrations and the only reason we can detect them so low is we had the technology to go that low,” he explained. “It doesn’t really represent a threat that we know of, so people don’t need to be alarmed.”
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