The Uzice case. (J. Meriluoto, Z. Svircev). Abstract:
An intensive bloom of the cyanobacterium Planktothrix rubescens was observed in the Vrutci reservoir in December 2013. The blooming reservoir served as the drinking water source for the city of Užice, Serbia, with 70,000 inhabitants. Filaments of the cyanobacterium were found in the treated water and there were complaints about discoloured tap water. The MC-LR concentration in a drinking water sample was below the WHO provisional guideline value (1 µg/L) according to analyses provided by the Institute of Public Health Serbia. Despite this, the Sanitary Inspectorate of the Republic of Serbia decided to ban the use of tap water for drinking and cooking purposes to protect the health of the inhabitants of Užice. The situation soon resulted in unrest among the citizens. The toxicity of the cyanobacterial biomass was first shown by A. salina bioassays. Microcystin(s) were later detected by LC-MS/MS in samples of the reservoir and tap water, and in fish captured from the reservoir. Data about the water use and the health of the inhabitants were collected with the help of a questionnaire which clearly indicated a number of health issues. An epidemiological investigation also showed an elevated occurrence of digestive tract and skin diseases compared to earlier years, possibly as a result of exposure to the cyanobacterial material/metabolites. Based on the evidence found, it is likely that a cyanobacterial bloom occurred in the reservoir already before 2013. Lessons from the Užice case are many. The presentation discusses i) the importance of interaction between academia and authorities, ii) proper monitoring of cyanobacterial hazards, iii) the necessity of adequate information and advice to the general public, iv) guidelines and legislation, and v) collection of exposure and health data complementary to analytical results. Further, the authors would like to underline the recurrent role of Planktothrix sp. in drinking water quality problems.
Svirčev, Z., D. Drobac, N. Tokodi, D. Đenić, J. Simeunović, A. Hiskia, T. Kaloudis, B. Mijović, S. Šušak, M. Protić, M. Vidović, A. Onjia, S. Nybom, T. Važić, T. Palanački Malešević, T. Dulić, D. Pantelić, M. Vukašinović & J. Meriluoto (2017) Lessons from the Užice case: how to complement analytical data – Handbook of Cyanobacterial Monitoring and Cyanotoxin Analysis (J. Meriluoto, L. Spoof & G. A. Codd, Eds.), Chichester: Wiley.
Svirčev, Z., D. Drobac, N. Tokodi, B. Mijović, G. A. Codd & J. Meriluoto (2017) Toxicology of microcystins with reference to cases of human intoxications and epidemiological investigations of exposures to cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins – Archives of Toxicology, pp.1-30, doi:10.1007/s00204-016-1921-6