Cyanobacterial Toxins (Cyanotoxins) in Water

Revised January 2014

Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are natural inhabitants of fresh, brackish and marine waters and are of worldwide distribution. They produce a diverse range of small molecules (cyanobacterial toxins: cyanotoxins) which are hazardous to human and animal health.

The sources and properties of these toxins are briefly reviewed. Their harmful effects range from mild to serious, and include gastrointestinal upsets, skin irritations, liver and neurological damage. Examples of the adverse effects on human health, domestic animals and wildlife are given.

Risk assessments for health protection against some of the most common and potent cyanotoxins have been made and included in emerging schemes for the risk management of cyanotoxin problems which can occur in potable and recreational waters. Reactive and proactive measures and further needs in this context are presented. The reduction of cyanotoxin problems in natural and controlled waters as a potential benefit of eutrophication control is also discussed.

Copies of this report are available from the Foundation, price 15.00, less 20% to FWR members

View full report