The following Editorial was published in The Daily Sun on December 1, 2021.
We think it’s a great idea to know to what degree harmful algae blooms can hurt humans.
It was good to learn in a Miami Herald article that Florida Atlantic University is beginning a study on the effects of human exposure to algae and the toxins they emit.
Just about everyone agrees that red tide and other algae blooms — like the blue-green algae that plagued canals in Lee County a couple of years ago — harm wildlife. Marine animals, especially fish, wash up on shore when red tide is persistent and there are studies that show manatees and other marine life suffer too.
And, while we all know that red tide and toxins can cause sneezing, coughing and irritate our throats, no one has ever really determined how much exposure to those toxins is too much. It would be a great relief to know exposure cannot cause serious problems. And, it would be important to know that if more serious effects can be caused by long-term exposure.
According to the Miami Herald, the study will expand research done in 2016 and 2018 in which scientists followed 102 participants and tested them for toxins. FAU researchers are using a grant from the Florida Department of Health to recruit 50 eligible adults to participate in a similar sampling next year. They want to evaluate the exposure to harmful algae blooms on people with preexisting conditions such as asthma and people who had COVID-19, for starters.
The more research that can be accomplished concerning algae blooms and red tide the better. These are serious issues that not only plague Floridians’ health but our status as a top destination for tourists.