Toxic Blue-Green Algae
What are cyanobacterial toxins?
Cyanobacterial toxins are naturally produced poisons stored in the cells of certain species of cyanobacteria. These toxins fall into various categories. Some are known to attack the liver (hepatotoxins) or the nervous system (neurotoxins); others simply irritate the skin. These toxins are usually released into water when the cells rupture or die. Scientists are more concerned about hepatotoxins than neurotoxins, because neurotoxins are not considered to be as widespread as hepatotoxins in water supplies. Very few cyanobacterial toxins have actually been isolated and characterized to date. Better methods of detection are being developed to help us learn more about them, especially to find out which toxins are a problem in Ireland and elsewhere and what conditions encourage their production.