Specialty Polymeric Materials for use in the Purification and Detection of Harmful Algal Bloom Toxins: Science and Engineering

EPA Grant Number: R829424E03
Title: Specialty Polymeric Materials for use in the Purification and Detection of Harmful Algal Bloom Toxins: Science and Engineering
Investigators: Scrivens, W. A. , Alegria, H. , Moeller, P. , Morgan, S.
Current Investigators: Scrivens, W. A.
Institution: University of South Carolina at Columbia
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2003 (Extended to September 30, 2004)
Project Amount: $199,305
RFA: EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: EPSCoR (The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research)


Periodically, coastal waterways experience extensive blooms of algae that negatively impact local health, resources, and economies. Most of these harmful algal blooms (HABs) interfere with local ecologies by displacing indigenous species, altering habitats, or depleting oxygen in the environments. A small percentage of these blooms, however, consist of microorganisms that produce toxins that can kill marine organisms directly or can transfer throughout the food chain and effect human and animal life. In the last three decades a marked increase in both number and distribution of HAB events has occurred. Research into harmful algal blooms is currently one of the EPA?s top ten science initiatives. In response to the increase in HAB events, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) developed a national plan in 1993 that is the nation?s foundation for HAB research, management, and policy. It was concluded by the Toxins work group during the 1993 plan that the major impediment to progress in this area is that ?reference toxin is difficult to obtain, is not always reproducible, and is generally costly?. This situation has not improved substantially since this report was released; lack of methods for purifying milligram quantities of HAB reference toxins is still a significant research challenge.


The overall goal of this research is to develop a broadly applicable methodology for the purification and detection of HAB toxins. The immediate objective of this proposal is the development and synthesis of specialty polymeric stationary phases for the purification of saxitoxin and its analogues.

Expected Results:

It is believed that polymer stationary phases can be made to be selective for a particular HAB toxin or class of toxins. These stationary phases also have the advantage of being very non-reactive towards sensitive analytes such as HAB toxins; traditional purification methods tend to partially decompose or isomerize saxitoxin and related compounds. Such selectivity and lack of reactivity would allow these stationary phases to be used in the accurate field analysis and identification of HAB toxins as well as in the purification of large quantities of such toxins for use as reference materials and in future research on the toxins.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

marine, ecological effect, health effects, chemicals, toxics, aquatic, decision-making, environmental assets, environmental chemistry, analytical, nanotechnology, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, estuarine research, State, Oceanography, algal blooms, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, marine ecosystem, polymeric material, bloom dynamics, coastal resources, estuaries, coastal habitats, marine biology, water quality, South Carolina (SC), coastal ecosystems, environmental indicators

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • Final Report