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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the Joint Environment and Human Health Programme: Annual Science Day Conference and Workshop

Open Access Research

Strategies for monitoring and managing mass populations of toxic cyanobacteria in recreational waters: a multi-interdisciplinary approach

Andrew N Tyler1*, Peter D Hunter1, Laurence Carvalho2, Geoffrey A Codd3, J Alex Elliott4, Claire A Ferguson5, Nick D Hanley6, David W Hopkins17, Stephen C Maberly4, Kathryn J Mearns8 and E Marion Scott5

Author Affiliations

1 School of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Stirling, FK9 4LA, UK

2 Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian, EH26 0QB, UK

3 Division of Molecular Microbiology, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee DD1 5EH, UK

4 Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4AP, UK

5 Department of Statistics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QW, UK

6 Department of Economics, University of Stirling, Stirling, FK9 4LA, UK

7 Scottish Crop Research Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee, DD2 5DA, UK

8 School of Psychology, College of Life Sciences and Medicine, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 2UB, UK

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Environmental Health 2009, 8(Suppl 1):S11  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-S1-S11

Published: 21 December 2009

Abstract

Mass populations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria commonly develop in fresh-, brackish- and marine waters and effective strategies for monitoring and managing cyanobacterial health risks are required to safeguard animal and human health. A multi-interdisciplinary study, including two UK freshwaters with a history of toxic cyanobacterial blooms, was undertaken to explore different approaches for the identification, monitoring and management of potentially-toxic cyanobacteria and their associated risks. The results demonstrate that (i) cyanobacterial bloom occurrence can be predicted at a local- and national-scale using process-based and statistical models; (ii) cyanobacterial concentration and distribution in waterbodies can be monitored using remote sensing, but minimum detection limits need to be evaluated; (iii) cyanotoxins may be transferred to spray-irrigated root crops; and (iv) attitudes and perceptions towards risks influence the public's preferences and willingness-to-pay for cyanobacterial health risk reductions in recreational waters.