FGCU researchers test air quality for toxins

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:
Cape Coral Canal
Cape Coral canal being tested for toxins permeating in the air.

Anthony Karp had his mind set — he was going to raise his family in Cape Coral along the canals.

What he didn’t consider was what’s in the air. But he is curious to find out.

Florida Gulf Coast University researchers have collected samples from an air filter. The substance collected was at Karp’s house nearby an adjacent canal and from a filter in Bonita Springs, which they will compare it with.

“We don’t know what it is,” Dr. Mike Parsons said, a professor of marine science at FGCU. “We don’t know if it’s going to be this cyanobacteria or the toxins.”

He will be sending the multilayered filter to Yale University, where it will be put through extensive testing.

“It’s basically an antibody test so they’re antibodies developed for the toxin,” Dr. Parsons said. “These test will use that and a body to cause a color reaction.”

The more color, the more toxins. But just as important is how far down on the filter they find particles.

The big issue is the smaller the particles are, the deeper in your lungs they can get. Researchers will also be able to tell if it is just algae vaporized or if the dry season is now turning it into airborne dust.

“It’ll dry as it breaks down the winds pick it up and it could create more of this particular matter that these air samplers will be collecting,” Dr. Parsons said.

For Karp, it is all about collecting more knowledge to keep his family safe.

“If it’s collected in that device … we’re gonna have to take some steps to do something about it with my family,” Karp said. “Whether it’s to just make sure that we’re wearing respirators all the time or need to move.”

The results, according to Dr. Parson, will be available near Oct. 22.

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