Florida lawmakers respond to community concerns over air quality

After blue-green algae invaded canals and surrounded homes, residents are concerned about their health.

We know the water is toxic, but what about the air?

A WINK News investigation revealed that no one is testing the air you breathe.

“In Southwest Florida, we need to reduce the possibility of having cyanobacteria form and released into our waterways. That is the main thing I think we need to address,” said Representative Heather Fitzenhagen of District 78.

Fitzenhagen says using state funds will help reduce the amount of cyanobacteria, however, understands the bacteria will never go away.

“We can reduce it, we can make people aware and we can be more vigilant about testing the water we swim in, the water that we drink and there is, as you stated, the potential for airborne toxins but I don’t think that’s the major problem we have right now,” she said.

Representative Ray Rodrigues, District 76, says more science and testing is needed to understand the effects of cyanobacteria and human exposure. WINK News asked him about the research and science that has already been published by scientist.

“Follow the science,” he said. “Clearly there needs to be a study that indicates what the harm for this is.”

Scientists say their research in the effects of toxins in humans is already published and more research is underway.

“There’s increasing evidence now that it can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and ALSDR,” said Larry Brand at University of Miami.

WINK News also reached out to Rep. Dane Eagle who canceled the interview with WINK and Senator Lizbeth Benaquisto who didn’t respond.

Rep. Rodrigues says the state is working to set up emergency estuary protection wells for runoff water north of Lake Okeechobee.

Both Rodrigues and Fitzenhagen say air quality testing is important but they say state funding is needed elsewhere.

Reporter:Chris Grisby
Writer:Emily Luft
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