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FGCU researchers study how red tide toxins travel in our bodies

As the red tide levels go up and down, a tool is helping to provide new clues as to how toxins travel in our bodies.

Researchers at Florida Gulf Coast University are using canisters to collect air samples from places where red tide has been detected, like just east Bonita Beach at the school’s Vester Field Station.

“We wanted to just see if we can get any signals of toxins that are possibly getting in the air,” said Adam Catasus, research and education coordinator at FGCU.

The idea behind the sampler is, from the top down, each level represents how far possible particles can reach inside your body.

The top is like your nose, where large particles might get in and stop, and the bottom is where the smallest particles could enter your bloodstream.

“It could just get to your nose and then get stuck there and then it gets filtered out,” Catasus explained.

It’s also monitoring the water.

“Right now, for the first time, we’re putting our estuarian sediment traps in really shallow water,” said Alexander Donnenfeld, undergraduate research assistant at FGCU.

FGCU researchers use the trappers to try to collect the red tide organism.

“That’s going to be used to also kind of track blooms and see how it moves throughout the bay,” Catasus said.

As researchers and tools work in tandem, it brings us another step closer to understanding red tide’s punch.

If the bloom persists, researchers may install samplers at more sites. Toxin data from the canister at their Bonita Springs site will not be available for a couple of months.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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