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Recreational Exposure to Low Concentrations of Microcystins During an Algal Bloom in a Small Lake
National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Chamblee, Georgia 30341, USA
Department of Biological Sciences, Wright State University, 3640 Colonel Glen Highway, Dayton, Ohio 45435. Current address: 42184 Tweedle Lane, Seaside, Oregon 97138, USA
Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Florida 34236, USA
Greenwater Laboratories, 205 Zaegler Drive, Pakatka, Florida 32177, USA
Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Inhalation Toxicology Laboratory, P.O. Box 5890, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87285, USA
National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Chamblee, Georgia 30341, USA
Atlanta Research and Education Foundation, 1670 Clairmont Road, Decatur, Georgia 30033, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 February 2008; in revised form: 5 June 2008 / Accepted: 19 June 2008 / Published: 26 June 2008
Abstract: We measured microcystins in blood from people at risk for swallowing water or inhaling spray while swimming, water skiing, jet skiing, or boating during an algal bloom. We monitored water samples from a small lake as a Microcystis aeruginosa bloom developed. We recruited 97 people planning recreational activities in that lake and seven others who volunteered to recreate in a nearby bloom-free lake. We conducted our field study within a week of finding a 10-μg/L microcystin concentration. We analyzed water, air, and human blood samples for water quality, potential human pathogens, algal taxonomy, and microcystin concentrations. We interviewed study participants for demographic and current health symptom information. Water samples were assayed for potential respiratory viruses (adenoviruses and enteroviruses), but none were detected. We did find low concentrations of Escherichia coli, indicating fecal contamination. We found low levels of microcystins (2 μg/L to 5 μg/L) in the water and (<0.1 ng/m3) in the aerosol samples. Blood levels of microcystins for all participants were below the limit of detection (0.147μg/L). Given this low exposure level, study participants reported no symptom increases following recreational exposure to microcystins. This is the first study to report that water-based recreational activities can expose people to very low concentrations of aerosol-borne microcystins; we recently conducted another field study to assess exposures to higher concentrations of these algal toxins.
Keywords: Aerosol exposures; blue-green algae; cyanobacteria; microcystins; Microcystis aeruginosa; waterborne exposures
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Backer, L.C.; Carmichael, W.; Kirkpatrick, B.; Williams, C.; Irvin, M.; Zhou, Y.; Johnson, T.B.; Nierenberg, K.; Hill, V.R.; Kieszak, S.M.; Cheng, Y.-S. Recreational Exposure to Low Concentrations of Microcystins During an Algal Bloom in a Small Lake. Mar. Drugs 2008, 6, 389-406.
Backer LC, Carmichael W, Kirkpatrick B, Williams C, Irvin M, Zhou Y, Johnson TB, Nierenberg K, Hill VR, Kieszak SM, Cheng Y-S. Recreational Exposure to Low Concentrations of Microcystins During an Algal Bloom in a Small Lake. Marine Drugs. 2008; 6(2):389-406.
Backer, Lorraine C.; Carmichael, Wayne; Kirkpatrick, Barbara; Williams, Christopher; Irvin, Mitch; Zhou, Yue; Johnson, Trisha B.; Nierenberg, Kate; Hill, Vincent R.; Kieszak, Stephanie M.; Cheng, Yung-Sung. 2008. "Recreational Exposure to Low Concentrations of Microcystins During an Algal Bloom in a Small Lake." Mar. Drugs 6, no. 2: 389-406.