Questions remain over long-term health effects of blue-green algae

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Coughing, wheezing, and rashes.

Those are just some of the health problems readers are telling us about when it comes to previous bouts of blue-green algae in Southwest Florida.

“It’s hurting our tourism. It’s killing dogs and livestock and fish,” said David Spiers, who works for a company that’s working to kill blue-green algae blooms as we saw in 2018.

The state’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force is talking about the issue in Naples. And it’s so serious, Florida’s surgeon general Scott Rivkees made an appearance.

He says, “Health effects for blue-green algae toxins have been recognized for almost 1,000 years.”

The big question remains: What are the long-term health effects of the algae?

Florida’s state toxicologist Dr. Kendra Goff says, “We still don’t have a lot of information about what is going on with the longer-term impacts.”

Which also makes it hard to predict when harmful algae will show up.

Other researchers, including Dr. Mike Parsons, a professor at The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University agree, saying, “I think getting everybody on the same page is a really big hurdle and challenge we’ll be facing.”

It means better communication between state and local agencies.

Parsons says a better job needs to be done to educate the public as the research continues, and frustration grows in neighborhoods across Southwest Florida.

“It seems like it’s just study after study.” Spiers says. All to get to the bottom of a problem before it forms on the surface again.

The Task Force is also working on a website with the Department of Environmental Protection, where state partners can share water quality information with you all in one place.


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