Correlations Between Agriculture, Harmful algal blooms, and Parkinson’s Disease: How Anthropogenic Factors Are Contributing to Growth of Toxin-producing Algae




Leidner, Virginia

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The magnitude and duration of harmful algal blooms (HABs) is increasing, largely due to warmer climates and favorable nutrient concentrations. Cyanobacteria, one type of HAB, have the potential to release cyanotoxins dangerous to human health. This thesis reviews the reasons for the growing problem of HABs as well as what solutions are being researched to reduce the threat. Additionally, statistical analysis is used to determine whether agriculture, cyanobacterial growth, and Parkinson’s Disease prevalence in the U.S. are correlated. Finally, Washington State Parkinson’s related hospitalizations and microcystin data are analyzed for correlation. Results indicate that from a national perspective, agriculture, cyanobacteria density, and microcystin concentrations were positively correlated, and in Washington, data show microcystin and Parkinson’s related hospitalizations to be positively correlated. Further research is needed to better understand the potential association between Parkinson’s Disease and cyanobacterial HABs.