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There were no significant differences in the mean microcystin concentration by gender, race, or level of education achieved. Individuals who reported having direct contact with impacted water such as boating and fishing in the past 24 hours had a significantly higher mean nasal microcystin concentration than those with no direct contact during that timeframe.
"Ninety-five percent of the individuals screened had a nasal microcystin concentration above the detection limit of the assay," said Schaefer. "Only individuals screened at the end of the bloom period showed negative results. A relationship between nasal and water microcystin concentrations also was demonstrated."
Study participants were recruited at public locations near Stuart, which is located at the mouth of the St. Lucie estuary downstream from Lake Okeechobee, between July 30 and Sept. 30, 2018. After completing a questionnaire, sterile cotton swabs were used to collect a sample from the nasal mucosa, which were analyzed for microcystin concentration. Concurrently, researchers collected and analyzed a total of 47 surface water samples, collected bi-weekly during that same timeframe. Environmental concentrations of microcystin in water samples were analyzed by sampling location and sampling week to correspond with human sampling locations and dates.
"Recent funding from the Florida Department of Health will allow us to expand this research to evaluate the potential long-term health effects of exposure to blue-green and red tide algae at multiple sites in the state," said Schaefer.
Study co-authors are James Sullivan, Ph.D., executive director of FAU's Harbor Branch; Luke Yrastorza, Nicole Stockley, Robert Grady, and Malcolm McFarland, Ph.D., all with FAU's Harbor Branch; Kathi Harvey, FAU's Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing; and John S. Reif, D.V.M, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, Colorado State University.
"Analysis of other tissues also is needed to establish inhalation as an important route of exposure and systemic absorption," said Sullivan. "This study is a critical step in our ongoing efforts of the Center for Coastal and Human Health to understand and protect against the potential human health effects of harmful algal blooms." Source:
Florida Atlantic University Journal reference:
Schaefer, A.M., et al. (2020) Exposure to microcystin among coastal residents during a cyanobacteria bloom in Florida. Harmful Algae . doi.org/10.1016/j.hal.2020.101769 .
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