Occupational and environmental hazard assessments for the isolation, purification and toxicity testing of cyanobacterial toxins
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Cyanobacteria can produce groups of structurally and functionally unrelated but highly potent toxins. Cyanotoxins are used in multiple research endeavours, either for direct investigation of their toxicologic properties, or as functional analogues for various biochemical and physiological processes. This paper presents occupational safety guidelines and recommendations for personnel working in field, laboratory or industrial settings to produce and use purified cyanotoxins and toxic cyanobacteria, from bulk harvesting of bloom material, mass culture of laboratory isolates, through routine extraction, isolation and purification. Oral, inhalational, dermal and parenteral routes are all potential occupational exposure pathways during the various stages of cyanotoxin production and application. Investigation of toxicologic or pharmacologic properties using in vivo models may present specific risks if radiolabelled cyanotoxins are employed, and the potential for occupational exposure via the dermal route is heightened with the use of organic solvents as vehicles. Inter- and intra-national transport of living cyanobacteria for research purposes risks establishing feral microalgal populations, so disinfection of culture equipment and destruction of cells by autoclaving, incineration and/or chlorination is recommended in order to prevent viable cyanobacteria from escaping research or production facilities.
Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
Copyright 2009 Stewart et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Page numbers are not for citation purposes. Instead, this article has the unique article number of 8:52.
Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety