The Florida Department of Health announced that $650,000 in legislatively-appropriated funds was awarded to four Florida universities.
This funding will support these researchers in their efforts to improve the understanding of the potential long-term human-health impacts of harmful algal blooms like blue-green algae and red tide.
"We are filling an important gap in knowledge about the potential long-term health impacts of harmful algal blooms on human health,” said Adam Schaefer, MPH, epidemiologist at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. "I look forward to working with all of our research partners on this important public health research initiative.”
Potential outcomes of the research will include improved environmental and/or human toxin tests and a better understanding of the health risks for people with variable exposure to the toxins, from the occasional beach visitor to those with occupational exposures. The priorities for this research are:
- Prevention: Research with a focus on prevention of impacts from exposure to toxins associated with harmful algal blooms.
- Treatment: Research with a focus on improved treatment of impacts from exposure to toxins associated with harmful algal blooms.
- Health Disparities: Research that contributes to reductions of impacts from exposure to toxins associated with harmful algal blooms resulting from health disparities due to race, ethnicity or income.
- Screening: Improve screening accuracy, detection of high-risk subgroups, and/or improved implementation of a HAB-toxin screening program that results in an increase in early detection or prevention of HAB related illness.
This research will support the Governor's Executive Order 19-12, which aims to encourage partnerships to address critical water quality issues and their impact on the citizens and visitors to Florida.
"Our water and natural resources are what make Florida such a desirable and unique place to live and visit," Gov. Ron DeSantis said. "When they are threatened, our economy and way of life are threatened, too. These important grants will help advance the crucial research needed to ensure Floridians and visitors can safely enjoy our beautiful waterways.”