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Researcher Studying Long-Term Effects of Exposure to Cyanobacteria Toxins

Blue-green algae in the Caloosahatchee River at the beginning of Summer, 2018.
Tom James -
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force recently made its first round of recommendations that will be considered by lawmakers during the upcoming 2020 Legislative Session. The recommendations focus on source identification, nutrient reduction and remediation efforts, with guidance on innovative technologies that could help with the prevention, cleanup and mitigation of harmful algal blooms.

When it comes to health impacts the task force Consensus Document said “Public health issues as they relate to blue-green algae blooms are an increasing concern in Florida, though the science bearing on those concerns is quite limited and not well-developed. Of particular importance and urgent need are studies that address acute and chronic health effects of exposure of humans, wildlife and domesticated animals to algal toxins.”The document goes on to say that an essential component of such studies is access to quantitative data on algal toxins in water, sediments and air. And that the task force recommends that regular and proactive sampling for algal toxins be incorporated strategically into existing and future water quality sampling and monitoring programs.


One researcher who has worked extensively on the issue of prolonged exposure to the toxin BMAA that is produced by blue-green algae is Dr. Walter Bradley. He is Professor and Chairman Emeritus in the Department of Neurology at the University of Miami School of Medicine, and has been studying possible causes of neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s for decades.


His current research is trying to correlate where people who have developed ALS lived and what they would have been exposed to while living there to try to determine if there is a correlation between exposure to toxins produced by cyanobacteria and developing ALS.


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Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.