DOH ran limited air-quality testing amid blue-green algae

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Drone footage of algae in Cape Coral canal on July 25, 2018. Credit: WINK News

The City of Cape Coral is pushing to see if the blue-green algae is releasing toxins into the air.

But homeowners say it shouldn’t have taken this long to raise the alarm.

“Anybody with half a brain would realize that when the odor is that bad, it can’t be good,” one homeowner said.

While cleanup crews were able to remove a lot of the green gunk from canals, residents are still worried about months of breathing potentially harmful air.

Donald Doll and his wife are back home in Cape Coral after spending seven weeks away thanks to the algae growing in their water.

“It’s just survival you gotta go. The atmosphere was so bad, it’s not healthy,” Doll said.

Doll’s neighbor Vincent Penta also packed up and left, worried how the algal blooms would affect his family.

“I mean it was toxic, you could just sit out here and hack,” he said.

Now, we are learning that the Department of Health tested 11 different locations from Cape Coral all the way to Lake Okeechobee for hydrogen sulfide, which is an odor-generating byproduct of blue-green algae.

The Department conducted tests for hydrogen sulfide, which is an odor-generating byproduct of blue-green algae that can be harmful in high doses. The location of these tests can be found in the table. Information via DOH.

Hydrogen sulfide can be harmful in high doses, and the tests came back mostly clear, the DOH said.

But when it comes to testing for cyanotoxins, a potentially dangerous component of blue-green algae, the Department of Health says it’s not that easy to test.

In an email to WINK News, the DOH says cyanotoxin aerosol testing is not yet available for use by agencies for routine monitoring. Cyanotoxin aerosol testing is performed by a limited number of universities that conduct research in this field.

Still, Cape Coral City Council wants to bring algae air quality testing to Southwest Florida.

Some Cape homeowners think it may be too little, too late.

FGCU scientists are currently running their own air quality tests in Cape Coral. You can expect those results in a few weeks.

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