We are a group of interdisciplinary researchers from government and academic institutions studying the possible exposures and health effects of Florida Red Tide toxins to humans and other animals.
Very little is published in the scientific literature on the human health effects of Florida Red Tide, either as human clinical case reports or formal epidemiologic studies. In addition to the health effects associated with the ingestion of contaminated shellfish (ie. neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP)), there have been multiple anecdotal reports of respiratory irritation and possibly immunologic effects associated with the inhalation of aerosolized Florida Red Tide toxins in recreational and occupational persons on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, recent die-offs of the endangered Florida Manatee were associated with the inhalation of the Florida Red Tide toxins, and research in sheep and other laboratory animals has confirmed the ability of aerosolized red tide toxins to cause reversible bronchospasm.
The current studies seek to evaluate the possible exposure and human health effects of aerosolized red tide toxins in human populations. Investigators hope to establish human exposure and effect biomarkers of aerosolized red tide toxins exposure in animal models (rat, mice and sheep), and then pilot the use of the biomarker in several sensitive exposed human populations longitudinally. Ultimately, this research will contribute to the model of the animal and human health effects of aerosolized natural toxins elaborated in the Program Project proposal.
What we do:
The Investigators have assembled several population cohorts for the evaluation of the biomarker in at risk exposed and possibly sensitive subpopulations. These populations include 2 sensitive subpopulations, asthmatics (including children > 12 years) and older persons with chronic lung disease ( > 45 years). At the same time, in cooperation with the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), an occupationally exposed group consisting of lifeguards and similarly exposed workers is being studied.
The field studies involve exposure assessment in the sea water for the organism and toxin, as well as environmental and personal air monitoring for the toxin as well as particle size and weather conditions. At the same time, the different human study populations are evaluated before and after going to the beach during exposed and unexposed periods annually. The evaluation consists of a symptom questionnaire, swabs of the nose for biomarker exploration, NIOSH approved spirometry, and personal exposure monitoring performed before and after beach exposure. Additional studies evaluate possible long term health effects over the week following the exposure, as well as possible environmental exposure inland from beach areas.
What we have done:
The Investigators have assembled several population cohorts for the evaluation of the biomarker in at risk exposed and possibly sensitive subpopulations. Below are brief summaries of published (including the journal name, volume and pages) and ongoing research with these populations.
2005 Animal Model Publications
2006 Animal Model Publications