Web Zap*Germs Archive

August 13, 2005

Red Tide Algae Bloom Causes Wheezing & Coughing

The WSJ [subscr. req'd] reports that a persistent red-tide algae bloom on Florida's Gulf Coast is affecting some people swimming in the waters:
In addition to emitting a foul odor and killing fish, the toxic algae that cause red tide can cause wheezing and coughing in people who are exposed to it. Some doctors say the current algae bloom is producing more reports of health difficulties than any other red tide they can remember.

Still, afflicted vacationers have posted hundreds of blog entries recently on Web sites like lamenting the lack of information available at Florida hotels -- most say they didn't find out about the potential health effects of the algal bloom until they got home.
Red tide occurs nearly every year but rarely persists for more than a month; this year's bloom, which began in January, is the longest since 1999 and shows no signs of dissipating. Until this year, most of the evidence that red tide causes wheezing has been anecdotal. But a study published this spring in the journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences says that exposure to red tide reduces the lung capacity of people with chronic respiratory problems....


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