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World Health Organization Publication : Year 2003 ; Issue 9241545801 Chapter 7: Chapter 7 ; Algae and Cyanobacteria in Coastal and Estuarine Waters

By World Health Organization

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Book Id: WPLBN0000173279
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Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: World Health Organization Publication : Year 2003 ; Issue 9241545801 Chapter 7: Chapter 7 ; Algae and Cyanobacteria in Coastal and Estuarine Waters  
Author: World Health Organization
Language: English
Subject: Health., Public health, Wellness programs
Collections: Medical Library Collection, World Health Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: World Health Organization


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Organization, W. H. (n.d.). World Health Organization Publication : Year 2003 ; Issue 9241545801 Chapter 7. Retrieved from

Medical Reference Publication

In coastal and estuarine waters, algae range from single-celled forms to the seaweeds. Cyanobacteria are organisms with some characteristics of bacteria and some of algae. They are similar in size to the unicellular algae and, unlike other bacteria, contain blue-green or green pigments and are able to perform photosynthesis; thus, they are also termed blue-green algae. Algal blooms in the sea have occurred throughout recorded history but have been increasing during recent decades (Anderson, 1989; Smayda, 1989a; Hallegraeff, 1993). In several areas (e.g., the Baltic and North seas, the Adriatic Sea, Japanese coastal waters and the Gulf of Mexico), algal blooms are a recurring phenomenon. The increased frequency of occurrence has accompanied nutrient enrichment of coastal waters on a global scale (Smayda, 1989b). Blooms of non-toxic phytoplankton species and mass occurrences of macro-algae can affect the amenity value of recreational waters due to reduced transparency, discoloured water and scum formation. Furthermore, bloom degradation can be accompanied by unpleasant odours, resulting in aesthetic problems (see chapter 9). Several human diseases have been reported to be associated with many toxic species of dinoflagellates, diatoms, nanoflagellates and cyanobacteria that occur in the marine environment (CDC, 1997). The effects of these algae on humans are due to some of their constituents, principally algal toxins. Marine algal toxins become a problem primarily because they may concentrate in shellfish and fish that are subsequently eaten by humans (CDR, 1991; Lehane, 2000), causing syndromes known as paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP), diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP), amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP), neurotoxic shellfish poisoning (NSP) and ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP). Notwithstanding the importance of dietary exposure for humans, this chapter deals only with the possible risks associated with recreational activities in (or near) coastal and estuarine waters. Exposures through dermal contact, inhalation of sea spray aerosols and ingestion of water or algal scums are briefly considered, as are precautionary measures that can be taken. Chapter 8 deals with algae and cyanobacteria in freshwater. More detailed coverage of cyanobacteria and human health is available in Toxic Cyanobacteria in Water (Chorus & Bartram, 1999).

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