Public health responses to toxic cyanobacterial blooms: Perspectives from the 2016 Florida event

James S. Metcalf, Sandra Anne Banack, James T. Powell, Fiona J.M. Tymm, Susan J. Murch, Larry E. Brand, Paul Alan Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In June 2016, massive cyanobacterial blooms occurred in the St. Lucie River in Florida, caused by nutrient and cyanobacterial- laden water releases from Lake Okeechobee. We independently collected and analyzed bloom material for cyanotoxin diversity and concentrations. The concentrations of microcystins, potent hepatotoxins, present in the bloom material greatly exceeded World Health Organization Guideline Values for drinking and recreational water. We also detected the neurotoxins anatoxin-a(S) and β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA). The Florida State Governor declared a state of emergency, but many affected aquatic recreational areas in St. Lucie County remained open during the bloom eventwithout adequate hazard notification to citizens. During the bloom event, issues with preparedness, communication, sampling, analysis, closures and contingencies were observed.We suggest better ways that cyanobacterial bloom events can be predicted, managed, and mitigated in the future throughout the world. As similar problems with cyanobacterial bloom frequency and occurrence present worldwide, understanding governmental responses to the 2016 Florida incident can help in the development of effective mitigation and management strategies for future bloom events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-932
Number of pages14
JournalWater Policy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Contingency
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Eutrophication
  • Mitigation
  • Response
  • Toxins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Public health responses to toxic cyanobacterial blooms: Perspectives from the 2016 Florida event'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this