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Algal Toxins

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Algal blooms

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) have gained recent public attention and represent a challenge to many surface water systems. HABs often occur in shallow or stagnant surface waters, locations with warmer water temperatures, or in water bodies where nutrient runoff from agricultural and other areas is common. HABs are composed of cyanobacteria. Several species of cyanobacteria produce cyanotoxins that are recognized as liver, nervous system and kidney toxins. There is also growing evidence that cyanotoxins are genotoxic and carcinogenic. Microcystin, Anatoxin, Saxitoxin and Cylindrospermopsin are the most commonly occurring cyanotoxins in the United States.

Eurofins offers a suite of HAB analytical services including Algal Identification and Enumeration, Taste and Odor Analysis, and Algal Toxin Analysis.  These analyses are designed to help you manage source waters and determine the best water treatment options.

In response to the HAB concern, the US EPA has established 10-day Health Advisories (HA) for Microcystins and Cylindrospermopsin. Minnesota, Oregon and Ohio have also adopted regulations and guidance values for cyanotoxins in potable and recreational waters. Microcystins, Anatoxin-A and Cylindrospermopsin are on EPA Contaminant Candidate List 3 (CCL3) and are also included in EPA’s Unregulated Contaminants Monitoring Rule 4 (UCMR4).

Why Test for Algal Toxins?

Incorporating testing into your HAB management strategy offers the following benefits:

  • Early detection of cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins affords  the opportunity to initiate preventive measures before an HAB occurs.
  • Specific identification of cyanotoxins and other cyanobacteria metabolites provides information necessary to develop a successful treatment approach for maximum removal and operational efficiency.
  • Ongoing analysis supports treatment decision-making during a HAB event.

Taste and Odor Analysis

Eurofins offers rapid analysis of the most commonly occurring compounds associated with taste and odor. These data can be used to make real-time treatment decisions to improve the quality of the water before it reaches the customer.

Compound Reporting Limit (ug/L)
MIB 1 - 5
Geosmin 1 - 3
2,4,6-Trichloroanisole 2

Algal Toxins by LC-MS-MS

For low-level detection of cyantoxins, Eurofins uses LC-MS-MS (Liquid Chromatography tandem Mass Spectroscopy). Our capabilities include analysis for the following:

Cyanotoxin Analytical Methods Reporting Limit (ug/L)
Anatoxin - A EPA 545 and direct LC-MS-MS 0.02 - 0.03
Cylindrospermopsin EPA 545 and direct LC-MS-MS 0.05 - 0.09
Microcystin - LA EPA 544 and direct LC-MS-MS 0.008 - 0.1
Microcystin - LF EPA 544 and direct LC-MS-MS 0.006 - 0.1
Microcystin - LR EPA 544 and direct LC-MS-MS 0.02 - 0.1
Microcystin - LY EPA 544 and direct LC-MS-MS 0.009 - 0.1
Microcystin - RR EPA 544 and direct LC-MS-MS 0.006 - 0.1
Microcystin - YR EPA 544 and direct LC-MS-MS 0.02 - 0.1
Nodularin EPA 544 and direct LC-MS-MS 0.005 - 0.1

Algal Toxins by EPA Method 546

Eurofins utilizes EPA Method 546 for rapid screening.

Compound Reporting Limit (ug/L)
Microcystins 0.16 - 0.3