Alarming Levels of Algal Toxins Detected in St. Johns River

Terrell • Hogan attorneys support our River and the St. Johns Riverkeeper’s mission; two, Wayne Hogan and Leslie Goller, serve on the Riverkeeper’s Legal Advisory Committee. Recent news about the health of the St. Johns bears repeating.
Despite cooler weather, the “Green Monster” is still here. The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) released the results of 2 algae samples recently taken from the St. Johns River at Doctors Lake Marina in Clay County. The test results detected total microcystin toxin levels at 1120 and 4350 micrograms per liter, or more than 50 and 200 times higher than the recommended recreational exposure threshold of 20 micrograms per liter from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The St. Johns Riverkeeper, a nonprofit advocacy group for the St. Johns River, took samples of the St. Johns River at Jacksonville University and the test results detected microcystin toxin levels at 1085 and 2080 micrograms per liter, also more than 50 times higher than the WHO recommended recreational exposure level . The St. Johns Riverkeeper has received numerous reports of algal blooms throughout Clay, St. Johns, and Duval Counties.
It is important to understand the risks from exposure to these toxins, to avoid contact with any algal blooms, and to not eat fish caught near an algal bloom area. The Florida Department of Health, Duval County (“DOH-Duval”) released a statement regarding exposure to these toxins:
“Blue-green algae toxins can affect the liver, nervous system and skin. Most problems happen when water containing high toxin amounts is ingested. Abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting may occur if any untreated surface water is swallowed. Direct contact or breathing airborne droplets containing high levels of algal toxins during swimming or showering can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat. Rashes can develop when skin is exposed to the algae. Individuals should avoid coming in to contact with a blue-green algae bloom, especially children and pets. Boiling water does not remove or destroy these toxins. DOH-Duval recommends people refrain from recreational water uses that could result in ingestion of and/or skin exposure to algal blooms in the river. Children should also not be allowed to play along the shoreline where they might be exposed to clumps of algae or drink water from the river. FDOH [Florida Department of Health] also recommends that fish caught in or near the bloom not be consumed.”
Algal blooms occur as a result of excessive concentration of nutrients in waterways. Excess nutrients result from failing septic tanks, manure, wastewater discharges, storm water runoff, and fertilizers that regularly wash into the river. Too much nitrogen and phosphorous feed algal blooms that deplete oxygen in the water.
If you see any algal blooms, please report it to :
Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper at
Lisa@stjohnsriverkeeper.org or 904-509-3260.
You can make a difference by reducing your use of fertilizers, preventing runoff, maintaining your septic tank, and adopting other practices that stop feeding the “Green Monster.” The Riverkeeper’s website identifies many activities, ways to help and resources.

About The Author

Laura Hack

Laura Hack

Laura Hack is a paralegal with Terrell • Hogan. She has been with the firm since 1996 and has worked primarily for Wayne Hogan. She is an experienced Paralegal with 30+ years of working in the law practice industry. Skilled in Appeals, Civil Trial Litigation Support, Torts, Trial Practice, and Pleadings.