Science & Technology

Studies have found aerial release of toxins from algae scum

Dangerous toxins-for the first time-was witnessed released into the air from pond scum, studies published in peer-reviewed journals Management of lakes and reservoirs I’m showing today.

Pond scum (also known as blue-green algae) is not only an unsightly formation that can occur in still waters around the world, but can also prove to be dangerous to wildlife and humans.

For the first time, scientists have detected the presence of the algae toxin anatoxin-a (ATX), also known as the “ultrafast death factor,” in the air near a pond in Massachusetts, where large algae bloom.

ATX can cause a variety of symptoms at acute doses, including loss of coordination, muscle spasms, respiratory paralysis, and is associated with the death of livestock, aquatic birds, and dogs from drinking contaminated water.

ATX is produced by a unicellular organism called cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria can cause outbreaks of harmful algae when large numbers of cyanobacteria grow in the surface waters of lakes. Flowers can be exacerbated by fertilizer spills from nearby fields into lakes and ponds and improperly treated wastewater, stimulating growth and high water temperatures. Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are actually a type of bacteria that can photosynthesize.

Cyanobacterial outbreaks can also cause hypoxia and further worsen water quality. This is because when these large flower algae die, they can sink to the bottom of the lake and break down, exhausting all the oxygen in the water and killing fish and other animals. Flowers can also release toxins that can prove fatal to these animals into the water.

“ATX is one of the more dangerous cyanotoxins produced by harmful blue-green algae and is becoming more predominant in lakes and ponds around the world due to global warming and climate change,” said the lead author. Dr. James Sutherland said at the Nantucketland Council.

ATX has never been detected in the atmosphere before, but Sutherland and his colleagues thought that ATX could float in the air under certain environmental conditions.

To test this possibility, they were regularly covered with blue-green algae by inhaling air through a fiberglass filter from July to October 2019, at the edge of Capaum Pond on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, USA. Samples of airborne particles were collected from the vicinity. We then searched for ATX in these samples and pond water samples using an analytical technique called liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.

Not only were they able to detect ATX in pond water at concentrations up to 21 ng / mg, but at one point they also detected ATX in the air around the pond with an average concentration of 0.87 ng / filter. Potential aerial exposure of 0.16 ng / m3. This detection may have occurred on a foggy day in September after a windy night, when the ATX was blown off the surface by strong winds and protected by fog.

Researchers have shown how ATX is released from the pond into the air, whether in small water droplets, attached to aerosol particles, or inside cyanobacteria that have been blown into the air. I don’t know exactly. It is also unclear how exposure to these trace concentrations of ATX may affect humans and wildlife, but the fact that there is exposure is clearly a source of concern and further research is needed.

While this new toxin has been witnessed in one particular pond, researchers warn people around the world to approach still water with blue-green algae. Therefore, further research is needed to test pond blue-green algae internationally.

“People often recreate these lakes and ponds with blue-green algae without being aware of potential problems,” says Sutherland. “Direct contact or inhalation of these cyanotoxins may pose a health risk to individuals and has reported potential human health exposures that have not been investigated so far.”


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Studies have found aerial release of toxins from algae scum Studies have found aerial release of toxins from algae scum

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