Project 5: Regional and Seasonal Variation of Cyanotoxins




Aaravabhoomi, Hasika
Field, Daniel
Gibson, Adam
Schlueter, Matthew
Shah, Rohan

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George Mason University

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Background: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and their toxins thrive in warm, nutrient-rich freshwater conditions, and can produce harmful cyanotoxins. Typically, these cyanotoxins take the form of hepatotoxins, dermatoxins, or neurotoxins. Exposure to cyanotoxins can occur in various fashions, including skin-to-water contact, inhalation of fumes, ingestion of contaminated water, and indirect ingestion through contaminated water sources or aquatic animals [1]. Exposure to microcystins, a common hepatotoxin found in cyanobacteria blooms, has been linked to fatal liver damage in both humans and dogs [3]. Additional evidence connects cyanotoxin BMAA to neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS and Parkinson’s disease [5]. Minimal treatment options are widely available. Government bodies therefore focus their efforts on cyanobacterial toxicosis prevention, commonly issuing public safety alerts and advisory warnings around peak HAB exposure areas [3]. Objective: This research examines how HAB blooms and cyanobacteria outbreaks vary both regionally and seasonally across the United States from 2008-2018.