Water

Cyanobacterial Toxins – Distribution and Interventions

Cyanobacteria or blue-green algae prove to be a large source of new organic compounds which have biological activity. Although among such known and characterized compounds, many are toxic in nature. These toxic organic compounds are known as cyanobacterial toxins. They are suspected to cause deaths in humans as well as animals. Read on to know about the

distribution, scope and interventions of the cyanobacterial toxins

.

Distribution of Cyanobacterial Toxins

The alage grows rapidly under favorable conditions, like calm nutrient-rich marine or fresh waters in warm climates. They form blooms which tend to grow repeatedly in the same place. This poses a risk of repeated exposure to certain populations. These toxins have been known to cause poisoning in humans and animals for a long time in dugouts, ponds and lakes located around the world. One such early case was reported 1000 years ago in China.

Scope of the Disease

This algae has been associated to many diseases in several regions worldwide, including China, Scandinavia, Europe, Australia, Africa and South and North America. There are no exact figures for the frequency of people afflicted with it. The human deaths due to these toxins have been only documented when exposed during dialysis. The people exposed to these toxins through recreational water activity or drinking contaminated water required intensive medical care.

Interventions to Minimize Cyanobacterial Toxins

  • Water treatment

    – Eliminates the organism and its toxins from the drinking water supplies.

  • General awareness

    – Need to educate the public and staff in health sector about the risk of using contaminated water which contains high amount of cyanobacteria.

  • Minimize nutrient build-up

    – This is also known as eutrophication and occurs in reservoirs and lakes. This can be managed by better wastewater disposal systems and reducing fertilizers polluting the water bodies.

  • Hence, it is important to effectively control the cyanobacterial toxins before it causes any further harm to the human health.

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