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Diseases And Algae Blooms: Florida Researchers To Make Connections

Blue green algae floats in the lower St. Johns River in May 2010. Credit: FWC
Courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
Blue green algae floats in the lower St. Johns River in May 2010. Credit: FWC

State health officials are funding a study to explore the relationship between human health and algae bloom toxins. 

The Florida Department of Health awarded the University of Florida $130,000 to identify hotspots in the state for certain neurological and liver diseases, which are linked to algae exposure. Then, researchers will look in those areas for freshwater contaminated with toxic algae blooms.

"These diseases, include liver diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. We will specifically look for hotspots for those diseases," said Yi Guo, assistant professorat UF's Department of Health Outcomes.

He said this project is just the beginning.

"In the future, we will apply for larger grants that deal with the actual risk factors from Florida for public health planning purposes," said Guo. 

He said this initial study just got underway on Monday and will last about half a year.

My main role for WUSF is to report on climate change and the environment, while taking part in NPR’s High-Impact Climate Change Team. I’m also a participant of the Florida Climate Change Reporting Network.