Is Microsystin Killing Us?

This week we’re sharing an article by friend and mentor Karl Wickstrom, Founder/Editor in Chief of Florida Sportsman Magazine, and long-time champion of healthy waterways.

Karl’s article picks up where last week’s newsletter left off: The debate is over, Lake Okeechobee has a toxic algae problem. We need to take the human health risk seriously, and hold our government accountable.

In his article Karl mentions a remarkable book about Toms River, NJ — the town where I grew up. Like most people back then, I didn’t know a chemical company called Ciba-Geigy was knowingly poisoning our water while politicians looked the other way. It can happen anywhere, even a nice, quiet town by a river.

– Chris Maroney


By Karl Wickstrom


Is this deadly toxin actually killing some of us in our “CLUSTER” zone?

Sure looks like it.

Microsystin is a component of what’s lovingly called blue-green algae, or other confusing names like cyanobacteria. Or my choice: poisonous slime discharged on us from special interests inland.

Supposedly, a “recent” study from Ohio State University showed that people living in a four-county Florida cluster (Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee) died from liver disease (often cancer) at nearly twice the national average and much more often than elsewhere in the state.

This so-called shocking news comes out more than a full decade after noted scientists had already identified nutrient runoffs as the key source of eutrophication, which is known to kill all manner of marine life– and apparently innocent people.

For 15 years in fact, I’ve endured seeing on my office wall a large color poster warning against the pollution, headlined “Have you been slimed?” We’ve ranted and raved about the apparent dangers to the public ever since. And yet our top leaders remain befuddled, or call as now for still more studies.

One solution that should be obvious to anyone beyond third-grade science is to stop the discharges of nitrogen and phosphorus to the coasts as well as treat the tainted water in natural-like marshes.

Moreover, it’s absolutely critical to somehow persuade the federal government to update its Everglades restoration machinations to include, at a minimum, the provisions of Senate Bill 10 adopted this year by the Florida Legislature.

An Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir and flowway belong at the top of any must-do list.

As a final note, I hope you’ll consider reading a truly amazing science-based book about water pollution titled Toms River, a Pulitzer winner that should ring loud familiarity bells for this long-frustrated public.

The Toms River book includes a fascinating historical background about how the cluster patterns of death were discovered in London. That was long, long before our current politicians ignored such critical thinking skills.