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      Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxins Occurrence and Removal from Five High-Risk Conventional Treatment Drinking Water Plants

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          An environmental protection agency EPA expert workshop prioritized three cyanotoxins, microcystins, anatoxin-a, and cylindrospermopsin (MAC), as being important in freshwaters of the United States. This study evaluated the prevalence of potentially toxin producing cyanobacteria cell numbers relative to the presence and quantity of the MAC toxins in the context of this framework. Total and potential toxin producing cyanobacteria cell counts were conducted on weekly raw and finished water samples from utilities located in five US states. An Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbant Assay (ELISA) was used to screen the raw and finished water samples for microcystins. High-pressure liquid chromatography with a photodiode array detector (HPLC/PDA) verified microcystin concentrations and quantified anatoxin-a and cylindrospermopsin concentrations. Four of the five utilities experienced cyanobacterial blooms in their raw water. Raw water samples from three utilities showed detectable levels of microcystins and a fourth utility had detectable levels of both microcystin and cylindrospermopsin. No utilities had detectable concentrations of anatoxin-a. These conventional plants effectively removed the cyanobacterial cells and all finished water samples showed MAC levels below the detection limit by ELISA and HPLC/PDA.

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          Most cited references 42

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          Human fatalities from cyanobacteria: chemical and biological evidence for cyanotoxins.

          An outbreak of acute liver failure occurred at a dialysis center in Caruaru, Brazil (8 degrees 17' S, 35 degrees 58' W), 134 km from Recife, the state capital of Pernambuco. At the clinic, 116 (89%) of 131 patients experienced visual disturbances, nausea, and vomiting after routine hemodialysis treatment on 13-20 February 1996. Subsequently, 100 patients developed acute liver failure, and of these 76 died. As of December 1996, 52 of the deaths could be attributed to a common syndrome now called Caruaru syndrome. Examination of phytoplankton from the dialysis clinic's water source, analyses of the clinic's water treatment system, plus serum and liver tissue of clinic patients led to the identification of two groups of cyanobacterial toxins, the hepatotoxic cyclic peptide microcystins and the hepatotoxic alkaloid cylindrospermopsin. Comparison of victims' symptoms and pathology using animal studies of these two cyanotoxins leads us to conclude that the major contributing factor to death of the dialyses patients was intravenous exposure to microcystins, specifically microcystin-YR, -LR, and -AR. From liver concentrations and exposure volumes, it was estimated that 19.5 microg/L microcystin was in the water used for dialysis treatments. This is 19.5 times the level set as a guideline for safe drinking water supplies by the World Health Organization.
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            The effects of temperature and nutrients on the growth and dynamics of toxic and non-toxic strains of Microcystis during cyanobacteria blooms

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              Cyanotoxin mixtures and taste-and-odor compounds in cyanobacterial blooms from the Midwestern United States.

              The mixtures of toxins and taste-and-odor compounds present during cyanobacterial blooms are not well characterized and of particular concern when evaluating potential human health risks. Cyanobacterial blooms were sampled in twenty-three Midwestern United States lakes and analyzed for community composition, thirteen cyanotoxins by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry and immunoassay, and two taste-and-odor compounds by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Aphanizomenon, Cylindrospermopsis and/or Microcystis were dominant in most (96%) blooms, but community composition was not strongly correlated with toxin and taste-and-odor occurrence. Microcystins occurred in all blooms. Total microcystin concentrations measured by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry and immunoassay were linearly related (r(s) = 0.76, p < 0.01) and LC/MS/MS concentrations were lower than or similar to ELISA in most (85%) samples. Geosmin (87%), 2-methylisoborneol (39%), anatoxin-a (30%), saxitoxins (17%), cylindrospermopsins (9%), and nodularin-R (9%) also were present in these blooms. Multiple classes of cyanotoxins occurred in 48% of blooms and 95% had multiple microcystin variants. Toxins and taste-and-odor compounds frequently co-occurred (91% of blooms), indicating odor may serve as a warning that cyanotoxins likely are present. However, toxins occurred more frequently than taste-and-odor compounds, so odor alone does not provide sufficient warning to ensure human-health protection.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                Toxins (Basel)
                Toxins (Basel)
                12 June 2015
                June 2015
                : 7
                : 6
                : 2198-2220
                [1 ]Chemistry Department, Oakland University, Rochester, MI 48309, USA; E-Mail: szlag@
                [2 ]Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water, Technical Support Center, USEPA, Cincinnati, OH 45268, USA; E-Mail: sinclair.james@
                [3 ]Environmental Analysis Laboratory, Lake Superior State University, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783, USA; E-Mail: bsouthwell@
                [4 ]Lumigen Instrument Center, Department of Chemistry, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA; E-Mail: westrick@
                Author notes

                These authors contributed equally to this work.

                [* ]Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: westrick@ ; Tel.: +1-313-577-2579.
                © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (



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