Laboratory desalination experiments with some algal toxins Academic Article uri icon


  • Over the last several decades, countries throughout the world have experienced an escalating and worrisome trend in the incidence of harmful algal blooms (HABs). A concern is that highly potent algal toxins might be retained in the treated water, posing a threat to human health. Seawater contaminated with saxitoxins, domoic acid, okadaic acid, and brevetoxins was desalinated using small (<100 mL capacity) reverse osmosis and distillation equipment. Analyses of desalinated water samples indicated efficient removal of the four toxins to greater than 99%, except brevetoxins for which some carryover was observed during distillation. Hypochlorite concentrations of 4 ppm or higher were sufficient to react with all of the saxitoxins, domoic acid and okadaic acid in the samples that contained initial toxin concentrations up to 1,250 ng.mL-1 . Brevetoxins appeared to be unaffected in experiments in which the toxins were exposed to up to 30 ppm hypochlorite in seawater at 35 °C for 60 min. These results and their implications in terms of desalination plant design and operation are discussed.

publication date

  • May 2012