Algal toxins are just as diverse as the organisms that produce them. The toxins are typically grouped by their main mode of action, such as hepatotoxins (toxins that damage the liver), dermatoxins (toxins that damage the skin) and neurotoxins (toxins that damage the nerve cells). Some toxins can even be harmful in more than one way, such as microcystin, which not only have the ability to harm the liver, but are known to cause cancer as well. There is no known antidote for many of the toxins, so it is important to monitor algal blooms for their presence. It is also important to keep in mind that not all cyanobacteria are toxin producers, known toxin producers may not be producing at the time of the bloom, and some cyanobacteria can produce several different toxins at the same time. With monitoring and knowledge, the ability to keep people and animals safe can be relatively straightforward and undemanding.
FDOH Blue Green Algae FAQ Brochure
PDF file Developed and created by Wendy Stephan, Health Educator, Florida Poison Information Center/Miami, FL. Funding and support for production supplied by the Aquatics Toxin Program at the Florida Department of Health, the Center for Disease Control, and the Florida Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force.