Summit to discuss public health risks of harmful algal blooms

June 10, 2019 CONRIC PR

A serious threat to the health of all Southwest Floridians lurks in the water. Calusa Waterkeeper invites the public and healthcare professionals to a public water summit on Monday, June 24 about the health effects of harmful algal blooms. The event, called “Public Health Alert – Florida Water,” runs from 5:30-9 p.m. at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre on 1380 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers.

“Public Health Alert – Florida Water” will include a screening of the groundbreaking documentary “Toxic Puzzle,” narrated by Harrison Ford. An expert panel, including two scientists featured in the documentary, will discuss why harmful algal blooms have become a public health concern, where to find key information as the threat evolves, and what Southwest Florida residents can do to help safeguard themselves and their families while fighting for change. A question-and-answer session with the experts will follow the panel presentation.

“The health risks are becoming more apparent as new scientific research emerges,” Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani said. “We’re doing everything we can to get the word out and let everyone know what they can do to make a difference in this fight.”

Panelists include Cassani and two University of Miami scientists: Dr. Walter Bradley, chair emeritus of the university’s neurology department, and marine biology and ecology professor Dr. Larry Brand, both of whom were in “Toxic Puzzle.”

“The public is just beginning to understand the scale of the problem we face,” Calusa Waterkeeper Executive Director K.C. Schulberg said. “With each passing month, we learn more about the potentially horrendous impact, not just to our environment and marine life, but to the health of our fellow residents. There is urgency.”

The Southwest Florida Community Foundation is funding the program through a grant awarded in response to an inquiry from Calusa Waterkeeper President-elect Ruth Watkins. A second public forum set for Aug. 5 will feature the world premiere of an original documentary on the subject that Calusa Waterkeeper is producing entitled “Troubled Waters.”

A buffet dinner is included in the $20 ticket price for the June 24 event, with proceeds going toward the nonprofit Calusa Waterkeeper’s scientific research and educational outreach efforts. Tickets are available at

Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Email Schulberg at to find out how to get involved. To keep tabs on Southwest Florida’s water, visit and

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