Harmful algal blooms: Future threats in a warmer world (pp. 485-512)
Authors: (Lorraine C. Backer and Stephanie K. Moore)
Abstract: There is mounting evidence that the frequency of occurrence and geographic extent of potentially harmful algal blooms (HABs) are increasing. Some of this increase can be attributed to shifts in ocean conditions and local weather patterns, large-scale climate oscillations, and more recently, climate change. More frequent and widespread HABs increase the risk for human encounters with the algae and the toxins they produce. Specific interfaces across which people are exposed to HABs include contaminated seafood and drinking water. Also, as more of our global population migrates to coasts and shorelines, there is increased risk for exposures to any contaminants in the nearby water environment, including HAB toxins. Finally, global tourism puts na´ve populations at risk for exposure to HABs during recreational activities such as swimming, using personal water craft, sport fishing, and recreational shellfish harvesting. The public health costs of increases in HAB exposures will likely include more cases of human diseases such as ciguatera fish poisoning and respiratory effects from inhaling aerosols containing HAB toxins, such as brevetoxins from Florida red tides. Another public health-related cost will be expending resources to monitor HABs and develop and implement early detection systems to prevent exposures and subsequent diseases. In this chapter, we review impending changes in public health risk associated with potential climate-driven changes in the occurrence and distribution of marine HABs, and assess the potential for adaptation and mitigation of the impacts of future HABs through technological development, education, and policy changes.