Volunteers needed in the research of algal bloom impacts on humans

There’s a coast-to-coast effort to understand algal blooms better, and that work just got another boost.

From the air we breathe to the water we live, work, and play on; when there’s blue-green algae around, we can tell.

Dr. Shirley Gordon is a principal investigator and professor, Florida Atlantic University. She said, “We focus on caring for persons and the environment, so this harmful algal bloom study is very much in line with what we are concerned with.” And that’s good news for Southwest Florida.

The area hasn’t had a major algal bloom since 2018, which creates a challenge for the folks studying how they affect our health.

Co-investigator and professor at The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University, Dr. Mike Parsons, said, “It hinders the research in terms of really understanding the big blooms and the and the big exposure risk that we think might be associated with those blooms. That it’s worth looking into.”

Thanks to another roughly $320,000 from the Florida Department of Health; Florida Atlantic University and FGCU can continue their research.

The universities are studying the issue from two different angles. FGCU collects samples from the air and water, while FAU collects blood, urine, and nasal samples from people.

Gordon said, “That is one of the things that sets our study apart is that we are multidisciplinary.”

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on humans, but could it play a role in algal bloom exposure too?

“One of the big concerns with COVID, of course, is how it affects our pulmonary system, our lungs, so on and so forth,” Parsons explained. “And so, how would these respiratory irritations caused by these toxins affect that?”

Researchers still need more people to help with their research. They’re interested in anyone 18 years old or older who works or lives on or near the water. See the flyer below or click here for more information on the study.

You can also call or text (561)297-4631 or contact FAU at [email protected] to learn more.

Click to access Recruitment-Flyer-Template_FLDOH-Ext_-clean_10_21_21.doc-stamped-1.pdf

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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