In the summer of 2022, 13 of Utah's 18 freshwater bodies that are monitored by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) were issued health advisory conditions due to the presence of harmful algal blooms (HAB). With limited resources, DWQ reports the cyanobacteria cell counts relative to the warning advisory threshold of 100,000 cells/mL and health advisories are issued annually for Utah Lake due to exceeding the danger advisory threshold of 10,000,000 cells/mL. In addition to the eutrophic conditions resulting from the presence and decay of these algae, the toxic products they produce pose a hazard. The Utah Division of Water Quality (DWQ) monitors the liver toxin microcystin, which is produced by blue-green algae. Concentrations of other toxins such as anatoxin-a have not been regularly reported by DWQ due to the cost and complexity of the analysis. This research conducted a longitudinal (2-year) 2021-2022 analysis of the concentrations anatoxin-a in Utah Lake. The concentration profile shows increasing anatoxin-a in the warm summer months with a decline in late fall. All measured concentrations exceeded the amount last measured by Utah DEQ in 2019, 0.2 ppb. Although the United States doesn't have a regulatory limit for anatoxin-a, all measured anatoxin concentrations were below the New Zealand limit of 6.0 ppb. Such analysis is crucial to detecting and intervening in the rampant increase of neurotoxins in fresh-water bodies. This analysis will be valuable particularly since exposure to such neurotoxins has been indicated in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.
University / Institution: Utah Valley University
Format: In Person
SESSION B (10:45AM-12:15PM)
Area of Research: Science & Technology
Faculty Mentor: Emily Heider