Online Program

Public health surveillance of toxic cyanobacteria in freshwater using remote sensing

Monday, November 4, 2013

Trina Mackie, PhD, Public Health Program, College or Education and Health Sciences, Touro University California, Vallejo, CA
Cyanotoxins, produced by the cyanobacteria that can proliferate in fresh and salt-water, cause a range of harmful health effects. Cyanobacterial blooms are now increasingly prevalent in freshwaters as eutrophication becomes ever more common with anthropogenic drivers like climate change, hydroelectric dams and agricultural waste. This research project evaluated the efficacy of remote sensors to assist in characterizing the presence, distribution, and concentration of toxic algae in freshwater systems for surveillance and early detection, which are keys to effective public health disease prevention.

Public health officials must respond to the immediate risk by informing the public and helping them to prevent exposure to the toxins. Therefore public health professionals are dependent upon early and reliable information characterizing cyanobacterial blooms. This information can also inform appropriate monitoring, research, and resource management for longer-term change. The goal of this research was not to develop new remote sensing classification methods, but to explore the application of existing methods as an accurate, straight forward, accessible tool to semi-automate classification for harmful algal blooms in order to aid public health agencies and natural resource management with surveillance and early warning detection.

The research improves our ability to predict and monitor toxic cyanobacteria presence and intensity. A better understanding of how the natural and altered characteristics of an ecosystem contribute to new community exposures to waterborne contaminants like cyanotoxins will allow future development and restoration activities to take into account the public health implications.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the efficacy of remote sensing to identify and characterize cyanobacteria blooms in order to aid public health agencies and natural resource management with surveillance and early warning detection. Discuss the anthropogenic drivers fueling the trend in increased eutrophication and cyanobacterial bloom occurrence. Describe the exposure pathways and public health risks of freshwater cyanobacterial blooms.

Keyword(s): Environmental Exposures, Water Quality

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in various sectors of environmental health for more than 10 years. I have a masters and PhD in environmental health. I have conducted independent research looking at various environmental exposures and utilizing tools such as GIS and remote sensing. I am have taught environmental health courses at several universities and am currently on the faculty at Touro University.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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