Stuart, Fla. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today is urging additional action following an algal bloom outbreak at the Pahokee Marina that tested at 860 parts per billion microcystin, which is over 107 times more toxic than the EPA considers safe for human contact.
A University of Florida study found that toxins from harmful algal blooms, such as microcystin, can become airborne and travel roughly 10 miles from the bloom source. Rep. Mast is, therefore, urging the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a federal standard to protect communities from the threat of airborne microcystin and calling on the City of Pahokee to offer alternative housing options to potentially-impacted residents.
“The water at the Pahokee Marina tested over 100 times more toxic than is safe for human contact this week. This is a massive threat to public health and many people do not realize that these toxins are airborne as well,” Rep. Mast said. “Right now there is no standard in place to alert the surrounding community that the air they are breathing contains toxins. That needs to change, and in the meantime, the City of Pahokee must ensure residents in close proximity to the Marina are not put in harm's way any more than they already have been.”
- According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, water at the Pahokee Marina tested more than 100 times higher than the health advisory limitissued by the EPA for microcystin, which is caused by harmful algal blooms.
- A study released by the University of Florida found that these toxins can travel roughly 10 miles from the bloom source once airborne.
- In the letter, Rep. Mast also urged the EPA to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prohibit discharges of toxic water when the water exceeds the EPA’s health standard. He has previously introduced legislation to make those discharges illegal.
A copy of the letters that Rep. Mast sent to the EPA and the City of Pahokee can be found below.