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FL - FAU Receives Florida Department of Health Grant to Study Health Effects of Harmful Algal Blooms

Study Will Provide Preliminary Exploration of Possible Increased Susceptibility in Those Infected with COVID-19

Newswise — Florida has experienced numerous harmful algal blooms (HABs) in recent years. During these blooms, species of cyanobacteria release toxic peptides, including microcystins and nodularin into waterways. Human exposure comes from ingestion, direct skin contact or inhalation, and can lead to a variety of symptoms ranging from gastroenteritis, nausea, allergic reactions and skin rashes to hepatic injury in more severe cases. Despite multiple occurrences of red tide and blue green algae in Florida waters, the understanding of the health effects of exposure to these blooms remains limited.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute have received a $319,976 grant from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) to evaluate the short- and long-term health effects of exposure to HABS in Florida. Researchers will use a collaborative, multisite approach in collaboration with Florida Gulf Coast University.

Measuring concentrations of HAB toxins in the environment and in multiple human tissues will fill an important data gap in understanding the effects of exposures to HABS, particularly airborne toxins. The research project expands upon pilot studies conducted by FAU in 2018, and an FDOH study funded this past year.

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