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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts.
Our Program and Partners
Aquatic Toxins Program
Bloom Monitoring and Notification
WHAT IS THE DEPARTMENT DOING? The Department of Health (DOH) works closely with its sister agencies, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Together, the three have established a collaborative protocol for the monitoring and public notification of blooms in state waters to protect Florida citizens and visitors from exposure.
DEP and their partners conduct sampling and testing of freshwater for blue-green algae, while FWC samples and tests marine waters for red tide. DOH gathers the data from both agencies to develop health cautions and health alerts and works to distribute the information to affected county health departments (CHDs) in Florida. The CHDs relay the information locally through established notification channels. Posted press releases can be found on our Where are HABs?page, or on the county health department’s website. Please contact your local county health department for further information on messaging methods.
The Department of Health uses a two-tiered notification of Health Cautions and Health Alerts. For blue-green algae, a Health Caution is based on the presence of a bloom, and a Health Alert is issued on the basis of toxin detected.
With concurrence from DEP and input from Florida’s Blue Green Algae Task Force, these conservative thresholds were selected over numeric criteria because they offer the greatest protection as conditions change. It typically takes no less than 3 days to collect, ship, analyze and report sampling results, and in that time, algae distribution can change significantly. Basing public health notifications on the simple presence of cyanobacteria or their toxins gives the public timely information in case conditions worsen.
Red tide Health Cautions and Health Alerts are based on numeric thresholds set by FWC. HealthCautions are based on Karenia brevis cell concentrations in the range of 10,000 to 100,000 cells per liter of water. Health Alerts are issued when concentrations reach greater than 100,000 cells per liter.
STATE AGENCIES The Department of Health collaborates regularly with its state agency partners on issues related to HABs, most commonly:
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
- Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
LOCAL, STATE AND NATIONAL ENTITIES are also important players frequently involved in the Department of Health’s work. These include, but are not limited to:
- County/Municipal Government Staff
- Florida Poison Information Centers
- Florida Water Management Districts
- Mote Marine Laboratory
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
- Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
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