Rep. Buchanan, researchers discuss plan to study health effects of red tide

Sarasota County

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Most people in Tampa Bay are familiar with red tide, the harmful algal bloom that afflicted the Gulf Coast last year, but no one really knows it’s long-term health effects.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL 16th District) recently passed a measure, securing $6.25 million for the National Institues of Health (NIH) to research the long-term health effects of red tide.

He held a press conference Monday to discuss his plan. Dr. Kirk Voelker, Pulmonologist/Critical Care Specialist and Medical Director of Clinical Research at Sarasota Memorial Hospital; Michael Mullan, executive director of the Roskamp Institute; Dr. Michael P. Crosby, President & CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory were also in attendance.

“It is critical that we know the long-term impacts of red-tide on human health,” Buchanan said. “I’ve asked our local experts to provide us with the science and I’ll work on getting them the funding.”

Michael Mullan stated, “We know the neurotoxins released by Red Tide can cause inflammation in many animal species and in humans but we do not know whether there are any long term consequences to human health (including brain health) from Red Tide neurotoxin exposure. Our residents will greatly benefit from studies that address this important question. We appreciate Congressman Buchanan’s leadership on this important issue.”

Dr. Crosby stated, “We applaud Rep. Vern Buchanan’s efforts to secure funding for essential, next-level research into the effects of red tide on human health. The proposed funding to be designated by the National Institutes of Health is vital to the diverse research community that continues to tackle this important issue. Mote Marine Laboratory, an independent scientific institution with a long history of studying red tide and its effects on humans, marine animals and the environment, looks forward to new opportunities to engage with the National Institute of Health on this critical issue for public health and quality of life.”

Watch the event in the video player above.

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