You are here:
DETECTION OF CYANOBACTERIA AND THEIR TOXINS IN WATER
The major objective for this task is to develop analytical methods to detect problematic cyanotoxins in water. A preconcentration/extraction procedure will be initially developed to remove interfering substances with the detection of cyanotoxins in various water matrices. These methods will be used to determine the occurrence/prevalence of cyanotoxins in water and in the cyanobacterial cell culture collection in-house, and compare with the effectiveness of innovative detection methods developed for biological toxins.
Blooms of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, have recently become more prevalent worldwide as a result of human activities. The long-term chronic human health hazard attributable to toxic cyanotoxins in drinking water has caused considerable concern in humans. Continuous sublethal or low-level exposures to cyanotoxins can potentially lead to the development of gastrointestinal, neurological, and liver disorders.
The frequency in which blooms occur and the amounts of toxic cyanotoxins in bodies of waters during blooms are largely unknown. Cyanobacteria and their toxins are currently on the Agency's Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) and require additional research to assess the magnitude and extent of any risk to humans. Very few studies have been done to determine the occurrence and prevalence of cyanobacteria and their toxins in surface and finished water, yet such knowledge is important to future regulatory decisions about whethr and how to limit consumption or exposure to these toxins. The goal of this study is to develop a method to simultaneously extract and detect cyanotoxins of interest to the Agency. Developed methods will be used to determine the occurrence of problematic cyanobacteria and their toxins in water. Initially, studies will be focused on microcystins and cyanobacteria-producing microcystins in surface water. Eventually, methods will be developed to detect other cyanobacteria and the toxins they produce such as cylindrospermopsin, anatoxins, and saxitoxins in water. Such toxins have also been reported to have significant adverse health effects in humans and are potential biological toxins that terrorists can use to poison our drinking water systems.