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Toxicon. 2004 May;43(6):639-49.

Occurrence and elimination of cyanobacterial toxins in two Australian drinking water treatment plants.

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  • 1Environmental Toxicology, University of Konstanz, P.O. Box X918, 78457 Konstanz, Germany.


In Australian freshwaters, Anabaena circinalis, Microcystis spp. and Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii are the dominant toxic cyanobacteria. Many of these surface waters are used as drinking water resources. Therefore, the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia set a guideline for MC-LR toxicity equivalents of 1.3 microg/l drinking water. However, due to lack of adequate data, no guideline values for paralytic shellfish poisons (PSPs) (e.g. saxitoxins) or cylindrospermopsin (CYN) have been set. In this spot check, the concentration of microcystins (MCs), PSPs and CYN were determined by ADDA-ELISA, cPPA, HPLC-DAD and/or HPLC-MS/MS, respectively, in two water treatment plants in Queensland/Australia and compared to phytoplankton data collected by Queensland Health, Brisbane. Depending on the predominant cyanobacterial species in a bloom, concentrations of up to 8.0, 17.0 and 1.3 microg/l were found for MCs, PSPs and CYN, respectively. However, only traces (<1.0 microg/l) of these toxins were detected in final water (final product of the drinking water treatment plant) and tap water (household sample). Despite the low concentrations of toxins detected in drinking water, a further reduction of cyanobacterial toxins is recommended to guarantee public safety.

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