Inland transport of aerosolized Florida red tide toxins

Barbara Kirkpatrick, Richard Pierce, Yung Sung Cheng, Michael S. Henry, Patricia Blum, Shannon Osborn, Kate Nierenberg, Bradley A. Pederson, Lora E. Fleming, Andrew Reich, Jerome Naar, Gary Kirkpatrick, Lorraine C. Backer, Daniel Baden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Florida red tides, an annual event off the west coast of Florida, are caused by the toxic dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis. K. brevis produces a suite of potent neurotoxins, brevetoxins, which kill fish, sea birds, and marine mammals, as well as sickening humans who consume contaminated shellfish. These toxins become part of the marine aerosol, and can also be inhaled by humans and other animals. Recent studies have demonstrated a significant increase in symptoms and decrease in lung function in asthmatics after only one hour of beach exposure during an onshore Florida red tide bloom. This study constructed a transect line placing high volume air samplers to measure brevetoxins at sites beginning at the beach, moving approximately 6.4 km inland. One non-exposure and 2 exposure studies, each of 5 days duration, were conducted. No toxins were measured in the air during the non-exposure period. During the 2 exposure periods, the amount of brevetoxins varied considerably by site and by date. Nevertheless, brevetoxins were measured at least 4.2 km from the beach and/or 1.6 km from the coastal shoreline. Therefore, populations sensitive to brevetoxins (such as asthmatics) need to know that leaving the beach may not discontinue their environmental exposure to brevetoxin aerosols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-189
Number of pages4
JournalHarmful Algae
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Air monitoring
  • Asthma
  • Brevetoxins
  • Harmful algal blooms (HABs)
  • Karenia brevis
  • Red tides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Plant Science


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