IMIS | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research


Publications | Institutes | Persons | Datasets | Projects | Maps
[ report an error in this record ]basket (0): add | show Printer-friendly version

Harmful algal blooms
Davidson, K.; Tett, P.; Gowen, R. (2011). Harmful algal blooms, in: Hester, R.E. et al. (Ed.) Marine pollution and human health. Issues in Environmental Science and Technology, 33: pp. 95-127.
In: Hester, R.E.; Harrison, R.M. (Ed.) (2011). Marine pollution and human health. Issues in Environmental Science and Technology, 33. Royal Society of Chemistry: Cambridge. ISBN 978-1-84973-240-6. xiv, 168 pp., more
In: Issues in Environmental Science and Technology. RSC Publishing: Cambridge. ISSN 1350-7583, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Algal blooms; Toxins; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Davidson, K.
  • Tett, P.
  • Gowen, R.

    Phytoplankton are free-floating plants found in marine and freshwaters that through their photosynthetic growth form the base of the aquatic food chain. A small subset of the phytoplankton may be harmful to human health or to human use of the ecosystem. The species that cause harm are now widely referred to as ‘Harmful Algae’ with the term ‘Harmful Algal Bloom’(HAB) commonly being used to describe their occurrence and effects. In terms of human health, the most important consequence is the production, by some species, of biotoxins. Typically, biotoxin-producing phytoplankton species exist at relatively low densities (c. few hundred or thousand of cells per litre) with the toxins becoming concentrated in the flesh of organisms (particularly bivalve molluscs) that filter feed on phytoplankton. In most cases, there are no adverse effects to these primary consumers, but this concentrating mechanism creates a risk to health if the shellfish are consumed by humans. In this review, we provide an overview of the mechanisms through which marine phytoplankton may cause harm to humans in terms of heath, and the negative effects on the use of ecosystem services. Subsequently, we consider HAB issues in the area we are most familiar with: UK coastal waters. Finally, the methodologies used to safeguard human health from HAB-generated syndromes are discussed.

All data in IMIS is subject to the VLIZ privacy policy Top | Authors