Health Risk Associated with Microcystin Presence in the Environment: the Case of an Italian Lake (Lake Vico, Central Italy)

Serena Melchiorre; Valentina Messineo; Milena Bruno; Pasquale Gallo
Cyanobacterial toxins are considered a worldwide cause of human poisoning and an important health hazard for human beings. Their presence is generally a direct consequence of a poor human use of surface waters, with increase of nutrient levels due to sewage discharges or to agricultural run-off. At present research groups make efforts to plan effective risk management strategies, and to elaborate risk assessment evaluations taking into account all the possible routes of exposure for the resident human populations. This study shows the case of Lake Vico in Central Italy, hosting annual toxic blooms of Planktothrix rubescens with microcystin contamination in lake water, fish species, groundwater and agricultural products, together with arsenic presence in groundwater and lake water. Investigations during 2008-2009 detected microcystin contamination in five fish species (from 0.21 to 411.5 ng/g body weight), in lake water (from 0.42μg/L to 350μg/L) and in treated drinking water plans (from 0.17 to 0.50μg/L). The content of microcystins in some fish samples was confirmed also by liquid chromatography coupled to ion trap mass spectrometry. The calculated EDI according to WHO proposed guidelines went from 5.1 to 123.4 g microcystins, 2-51.4 times higher than the WHO TDI value. In 2010 analyses performed on Corylus avellana fruits from cultured trees growing near the lake shore detected microcystin contamination. This evidence, and the presence in the lake, in its groundwater and in local drinking water plans of As levels exceeding the WHO limits for water uses, lead to consider the need to evaluate all the possible environmental variables influencing the assessment of the health risk for
Microcystins; Lake Vico; Accumulation; Fish; Water; Risk Assessment
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