CDC looking for study participants on blue-green algae health effects

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne Writer: Melissa Montoya
Published: Updated:
This image from 2018 shows the blue-green algae crisis that struck Southwest Florida waterways. (CREDIT: WINK News)

The CDC wants to see the effects of living near blue-green algae blooms and they are recruiting test subjects.

If you live or work the blooms you can participate. The CDC is looked for about 150 people to take part in the study.

Donna Oakley remembers what it was like in 2018 when the blue-green gunk blanketed portions of the Caloosahatchee River.

“This area of the lock looked like shag carpet,” Oakley said. “We were out here less than five minutes, and we couldn’t breathe for the rest of the week. I mean, just cold symptoms, upper respiratory.”

Those issues are prompting the CDC to start a new study called CAST, or Cyanotoxins in Air Study.

“And right now there is a significant bloom in Lake Okeechobee and some of the other areas,” said Dr. Lorrie Backer, a senior environmental epidemiologist with the CDC.

Backer said the ideal candidate spends at least two hours a day outside on most days and lives or works near the water.

“We are asking study participants to collect a whole series of data points for us, including we’re going to ask them to complete surveys, give us urine specimens, give us nasal swabs, do some lung function testing,” Backer said.

It will likely take some time to see results, possibly in 2023. But the information could help shape the response and alerts connected to blooms in the future.

If you are interested in learning more information on the study, visit the CDC’s website here.

If you are interested in participating, visit the CDC website here.

Visit WINK News’ SWFL Water Crisis page for more information.

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