Mar. Drugs 2008, 6(2), 389-406; doi:10.3390/md6020389
Article

Recreational Exposure to Low Concentrations of Microcystins During an Algal Bloom in a Small Lake

1 National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Chamblee, Georgia 30341, USA 2 Department of Biological Sciences, Wright State University, 3640 Colonel Glen Highway, Dayton, Ohio 45435. Current address: 42184 Tweedle Lane, Seaside, Oregon 97138, USA 3 Mote Marine Laboratory, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Florida 34236, USA 4 Greenwater Laboratories, 205 Zaegler Drive, Pakatka, Florida 32177, USA 5 Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Inhalation Toxicology Laboratory, P.O. Box 5890, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87285, USA 6 National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Chamblee, Georgia 30341, USA 7 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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Marine Toxins)
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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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MDPI and ACS Style

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.

AMA Style

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.

Chicago/Turabian Style

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.

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