Toxin mixture in cyanobacterial blooms – a critical comparison of reality with current procedures employed in human health risk assessment

  • Daniel R Dietrich
  • A Fischer
  • C Michel
  • SJ Hoeger
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 619)


Cyanobacteria are the oldest life forms on earth known to produce a broad spectrum of secondary metabolites. The functions/advantages of most of these secondary metabolites (peptides and alkaloids) are unknown, however, some of them have adverse effects in humans and wildlife, especially when ingested, inhaled or upon dermal exposure. Surprisingly, some of these cyanobacteria are ingested voluntarily. Indeed, for centuries mankind has used cyanobacteria as a protein source, primarily Spirulina species. However, recently also Aphanizomenon flos–aquae are used for the production of so called blue green algae supplements (BGAS), supposedly efficacious for treatment of various diseases and afflictions. Unfortunately, traces of neurotoxins and protein phosphatases (inhibiting compounds) have been detected in BGAS, making these health supplements a good example for human exposure to a mixture of cyanobacterial toxins in a complex matrix. The discussion of this and other possible exposure scenarios, e.g. drinking water, contact during recreational activity, or consumption of contaminated food, can provide insight into the question of whether or not our current risk assessment schemes for cyanobacterial blooms and the toxins contained therein suffice for protection of human health.


Cyanobacterial Bloom Inhalation Exposure Exposure Scenario Toxic Cyanobacterium Human Health Risk Assessment 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel R Dietrich
  • A Fischer
  • C Michel
  • SJ Hoeger

There are no affiliations available

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