Researchers install more air samplers in Lee County

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:
Blue-green algae build up in a SWFL canal. Photo via WINK News.
Blue-green algae build up in a SWFL canal. Photo via WINK News.

Families who lived near thick blue-green algae all summer long likely breathed in toxins. Toxins seeped into a man’s home in Lee County.

Because researchers found the toxins in Bonita Springs and Cape Coral, they set up four air sampler units Friday in Buckingham.

It’s lurking in the air, a neurotoxin, from blue-green algae once coating canals in Southwest Florida.

“It’s lurking but I would say no need to panic, yet,” said Dr. Mike Parsons, FGCU professor of Marine Science.

For the first time, we are seeing brand new results of air testing

“We deployed air samplers, one at a cape coral residential house and another one at our Vester Field Station,” Parsons said. “We just got the results back for BMAA, and we also saw BMAA in both areas.”

BMAA is a neurotoxin that effects the human nervous system.

“Related to ALS, and dementia, Alzheimers, but it’s a bit controversial,” Parsons said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on its activity and its potential toxicity to people.”

Parsons said there is not enough research on BMAA to determine how dangerous it is for people’s health.

“They should just be aware that it’s a potential risk,” Parsons said. “We don’t know if it is a risk.”

A potential risk for Anthony Karp who lives in the home where a filter was placed.

“On the phone before they even set up the sampler,” Karp said, “I felt that I should wear the respirator.”

However, researchers found the toxins where Karp didn’t always wear a respirator.

“We detected the toxins in the house,” Parsons said.

On the air handler inside during the peak of the bloom, BMAA and another toxin micro system showed up.

“It’s not comforting when you think you could be in your house and sealed off from the outside environment.”

Parson said the toxins don’t seem to be far from bodies of water.

FGCU researchers will collect the new filters in twenty days and send them to Yale University’s lab for testing. The goal is to have results back by end of February.

Next, they can compare results and get closer to answers.

“To see if it’s a threat and what threat it would represent, that’s an important answer we need,” Parsons said.


Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.