5,000-mile-wide seaweed blob heading to Florida could make you sick

Sargassum bloom creates ‘toxic gas,’ expert says

Stinky blobs of seaweed are already washing ashore in parts of Florida.

“We’ve already seen some of this arriving in Key West,” said Florida Atlantic University Research Professor Brian Lapointe.

He said it’s not just smelly. As more comes ashore it could have a negative impact on your health and even land you in the hospital.

Lapointe has years of experience studying seagrass and water quality. He recently joined News 6 Chief Meteorologist Tom Sorrells on an episode of Talk To Tom to discuss the unusually large gathering of seaweed heading toward our state.

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He told Tom, the sargassum releases hydrogen sulfide gas.

“This is a toxic gas. At high concentrations is a risk to human health, particularly to those with respiratory issues,” he said. “A study a couple of years back in 2018 in Guadeloupe and Martinique reported that — I think it was 11 or 12,000 people were diagnosed in clinics there for having acute exposure to hydrogen sulfide and I’m hearing now reports that pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the effects of hydrogen sulfide. So it’s just something to be wary of, and know about and educate yourself. You might not want to be in those areas breathing, high concentrations of this stinky gas, this rotten egg odor, when you’re at the beach, adjacent to some of these big piles of Sargassum, that are decomposing.”

Lapointe predicts the seaweed will continue to come ashore in Florida throughout the spring and pile up along our coast.

During his discussion on Talk To Tom Lapointe also said steps are being taken to sink the seaweed before it comes ashore and highlighted what is fueling the blob.

To learn more check out Talk to Tom on News 6 Thursdays at 5:30pm or watch anytime on News 6+.

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Tiffany produces the News 6+ Takeover at 5:30 p.m., Florida's Fourth Estate and Talk to Tom.