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Toxic cyanobacteria in Florida waters.

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The occurrence of toxic cyanobacterial blooms in Florida waters have become more prominent following increased growth, declining groundwater supplies, and identification of impaired surface waters as future drinking water sources.

Cyanobacterial toxins have been identified in source waters used for drinking water supply and in post-treated drinking water during algal bloom events.

Algal toxin concentrations in post-treated drinking water have exceeded existing and proposed World Health Organization guidelines for the oral consumption of microcystin and cylindrospermopsin.

Severe dermatitis has also been reported by swimmers in Florida springs where Lyngbya mats have expanded.

The prevalence and toxicity of cyanobacteria should be considered when developing appropriate Total Maximum Daily Loads for impaired Florida waters that do not currently meet their designated use.

It could also support further efforts to characterize potential ecological and human health risks due to toxic cyanobacterial blooms.

Identification of algal toxins in finished drinking water and reports of severe skin irritation following contact with toxic cyanobacteria should be utilized for justification and implementation of increased monitoring of potentially toxic cyanobacterial blooms by surface water managers and water utilities.

Epidemiological studies may also be required in Florida to assess potential human health risks due to algal toxin consumption at the tap and for those exposed to cyanotoxic blooms during recreational use of lakes, springs and rivers.

Without adequate water treatment and coordinated state-wide monitoring efforts, it is anticipated that the likelihood for human exposure to cyanobacteria and their toxins will increase as Florida becomes more dependent upon surface waters to supply a growing population and an expanding urban environment.

Coordination and communication between surface water managers and public health officials at the local level will be critical to the overall protection of the environment and public health during toxic cyanobacterial bloom events.

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