Detection of Toxins From Harmful Algae Blooms: Identifying Markers for Microcystin-LR.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Freshwater lakes can experience harmful algal blooms (HABs) of cyanobacteria that produce toxins which can affect human health. HABs have grown in frequency due to nutrient runoff and will continue to grow due to more favorable conditions in a warming climate. Most HAB studies have focused on the health consequences due to ingestion, but less is known about exposure resultant of toxin inhalation as a consequence of aerosolization. A field study was conducted to assess the potential for toxins to be aerosolized at Grand Lake St. Mary’s due to its intense and consistent HAB coupled with its use for recreation. The samples collected during the field study were used to explore markers for the HAB toxin Microcystin-LR. An aerosol time of flight mass spectrometer (ATOFMS), a single particle mass spec that collects dual polarity mass spectra in real time, was used to analyze Microcystin -LR standards and lab-generated aerosols of HAB lake water. Possible mass spectrometry markers were identified, which will be used in future studies and field work to determine the conditions associated with the aerosolization of toxins from HABs. These data will help develop a greater understanding of the effects of these HABs on their surrounding environment and their potential transport of aerosolized toxins.


Presented at the American Chemical Society Spring 2020 National Metting & Expo