FGCU researchers install filtration devices to collect air particles from harmful algal blooms

We may not have blue-green algae around now, but we should be ready if it comes back.

That’s why FGCU researchers are testing toxin levels now so they can compare what we breathe in when there are actually algae in the water.

Thanks to funding from the Florida Department of Health, researchers installed filtration devices in hopes of collecting air particles that develop from harmful algal blooms.

“The idea is we’ll be doing this over several years,” said Dr. Mike Parsons, a professor at the Water School at FGCU.

Something council member Jessica Cosden says has been a slow but worthwhile effort. “It was slow but it happened. We’re getting the information, we’re answering these questions we were just unable to answer. Two years ago, we just didn’t have the answers.”

FGCU’s research complements that of Florida Atlantic University. FGCU will focus on toxins in the air while FAU will see how it impacts the human body.

“We’re expanding a lot more,” said FGCU Research Scientist Adam Catasus, “so we’re going to be doing dry season, wet season, and we’re going to be doing it on the west coast of Florida, the middle of Florida and the east coast of Florida. And we’re also bringing in the human component – which is the main reason we’re doing all of it.”

There are already a handful of air sampler locations in Cape Coral.

The idea is for the top of the filter to represent particles that could be found in the nose, while the bottom of the filter captures the smaller particles that could travel further down.

“So we’re really looking forward to moving forward on this and just getting some answers, get some more data to see what we’re dealing with here,” Parsons said.

He said filters will run for around two weeks and, from there, FAU will look for volunteers for nasal, blood and urine samples to see if human exposure is possible.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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