Buchanan continues fight against red tide

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) recently requested that U.S. Senate leadership quickly pass his proposal to fight rising toxic red tides that threaten human health in Florida and around the country.

“We need to know how much of a threat red tide is to human health,” Rep. Buchanan said. “We know of the temporary physical discomfort it causes but we don’t know much beyond that. Now we need to find out if exposure presents a long-term threat to human health.”

House Amendment 284, introduced on June 12 by Rep. Buchanan, would direct the National Institutes of Health to designate $6.25 million to research the long-term health effects of red tide and other harmful algal blooms (HABs).

The amendment on June 12 received U.S. House of Representatives approval as part of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2020, H.R. 2740. The Senate on June 24 received the bill for consideration and on Oct. 17 made a cloture motion on the motion to proceed to the measure.

“As you continue your work on funding the government for fiscal year 2020, I respectfully ask that you include language from my U.S. House passed amendment to prioritize research on the long-term health effects of red tide,” Rep. Buchanan wrote in a letter sent on Oct. 21 to Senate leaders. “This issue is of particular concern in my home state of Florida which suffered one of the worst bouts of red tide in the state’s history last year.”

The lawmaker wrote that Florida’s most-recent HAB plagued the coast for more than 15 months.

“And now red tide blooms have resurfaced in my own backyard off the coasts of Manatee, Sarasota, Collier and Lee counties,” he wrote, adding that people can become ill or even die as a result of consuming contaminated shellfish that have been exposed to HAB toxins.

Nationally, HABs are a growing concern because of the widespread and lasting damage they cause to marine life, coastal ecosystems, local economies, and public health, wrote Rep. Buchanan, who pointed out that HABs occurring in U.S. marine waters cost the nation an estimated $80 million or more each year.