FGCU students experimenting with hydrogen peroxide to kill blue-green algae

Students at Florida Gulf Coast University are seeing if hydrogen peroxide can be used to kill or potentially stop toxic algae.

The students are using the algae outbreak on Lake Okeechobee to learn how to potentially control it in water conditions from the Caloosahatchee River. It’s a chance to bring the lab outside in a more real-life scenario.

“Today is the second day of our cyanobacteria experiment that we are running in these tubs over here,” said Taylor Hancock, a research assistant at the Water School at FGCU and a PhD student at the University of South Florida.

The group from the Water School, led by Dr. Toshi Urakawa, combined water from the Caloosahatchee River with blue-green algae from Lake Okeechobee in tubs.

Three of the six tubs have a high dose of hydrogen peroxide.

“Only after one hour of this high-dose treatment, we were seeing colonies just break apart into individual cells and individual cells start to die off, and then almost a full 24 hours later, the algae is just dead,” Hancock said.

The amount these researchers used is not how much they would use for real-life applications, but it gives them an idea of how quickly it can work.

“The main objective of this research is to try to understand the optimum concentration of hydrogen peroxide and how to use it,” Urakawa said.

Blue-green algae holds toxins and when it dies, it releases those toxins.

While it is difficult to stop them, this method could help treat harmful algal blooms.

 

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Melissa Montoya
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