The toxicology of microcystins and its implication on human health

Eutrophication is a widely recognised problem of water quality deterioration. Discharge of urban, industrial and agricultural waste has increased the quantum of various chemicals that enter the receiving waters, and alters the physicochemical characteristic. The exploding human population demanding more and more food, thereby pressing for more use of chemical fertilisers, and the residue of these chemicals reaches into fresh water reservoirs. The increasing nutrients results into prevalence of algal blooms in fresh waters, placing greater pressure on uses of water for both drinking and recreational purposes. Cyanobacterial blooms consisting Microcystis aeroginosa found in several parts of the world causes lethal poisoning to human, livestocks, wildlife and aquatic animals. Microcystin enters in the food chain through zooplankton, fish and aquatic animals. Microcystins toxins are naturally produced poisons stored in the cells of cyanobacterium M. aeroginosa. Humans are affected with water related exposure of microcystins with range of symptoms including stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, fever, headache, muscle pain, flitter of the mouth and liver damage. In addition, microcystins causes protein phosphatase inhibition and the cells suffer from oxidative stress. Thus, cyanotoxin phytotoxicity and zootoxicity strongly suggests a need for the surveillance of harmful algal bloom and the monitoring of water quality for drinking as well as for other purposes.

Authors: Pathak, Rajaneesh; Singh, Jaswant ;Full Source: Journal of Ecophysiology & Occupational Health 2010, 10(1 & 2), 35-41 (Eng) ;