Occupational exposure to aerosolized brevetoxins during Florida red tide events: effects on a healthy worker population
Environmental Health Perspectives
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
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Karenia brevis (formerly Gymnodinium breve) is a marine dinoflagellate responsible for red tides that form in the Gulf of Mexico. K. brevis produces brevetoxins, the potent toxins that cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning. There is also limited information describing human health effects from environmental exposures to brevetoxins. Our objective was to examine the impact of inhaling aerosolized brevetoxins during red tide events on self-reported symptoms and pulmonary function. We recruited a group of 28 healthy lifeguards who are occupationally exposed to red tide toxins during their daily work-related activities. They performed spirometry tests and reported symptoms before and after their 8-hr shifts during a time when there was no red tide (unexposed period) and again when there was a red tide (exposed period). We also examined how mild exercise affected the reported symptoms and spirometry tests during unexposed and exposed periods with a subgroup of the same lifeguards. Environmental sampling (K. brevis cell concentrations in seawater and brevetoxin concentrations in seawater and air) was used to confirm unexposed/exposed status. Compared with unexposed periods, the group of lifeguards reported more upper respiratory symptoms during the exposed periods. We did not observe any impact of exposure to aerosolized brevetoxins, with or without mild exercise, on pulmonary function.
This research was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, grant P01 ES 10594 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Florida Department of Health.
This is the final version of the article. Available from NIEHS via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 113 (5), pp. 644 - 649
Place of publication