SARGASSUM - Joint call, « Research, development and innovation », SARGASSUM

Human health consequences of long term exposure to gaseous emanation produced by sargassum seaweed decomposition in French Caribbean Islands – SARGACARE

Submission summary

Since 2010, massive and repeated invasions of sargassum seaweed have taken place on coasts of Caribbean countries. Stranding of brown algae represents not only an environmental and economic disaster but also a real threat to human health due to the production of toxic gaseous and organic compounds that are not yet completely all identified. Among them acute toxicity of hydrogen sulfide H2S and ammonia NH3 is well-known. In contrast, there has been no comprehensive assessment regarding potential human health hazards associated with chronic exposure to H2S. This lack of knowledge is critical because residents of hitten coasts have repeated and prolonged exposure to low concentrations of potentially toxic gases. Our clinical study performed at CHU Martinique in 2018 found that the most frequent clinical signs of chronic exposure were conjunctival and upper airway irritation, difficult breathing or shortness of breath, skin rashes and headaches. As preliminary results pointed to the respiratory system, we propose to better characterize human health consequences of gaseous emanation produced by decomposing sargassum and their association with ambient H2S and NH3 levels. Lung consequences will be assessed via spirometry and body plethysmography testing. Biomarkers of lung inflammation and oxidative stress will be measured in the exhaled air and breath condensate. Signaling pathways involved in lung toxicity will be further characterized in a mouse model. Genotoxicity and effects of prenatal exposition in mice on lung development and postnatal lung dysfunction will also be studied. Lastly, we will investigate relationships between air quality perceptions, health concerns, and social consequences based on an anthropological approach via individual observations. ). Overall, our efforts will concentrate to characterize and eventually control noxious lung impacts of sargassum thread through integrated approaches using up-to-date technologies and clinical studies.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Remi Neviere (Vulnérabilité cardiovasculaire, pathologies métaboliques et endocriennes)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


CHUG CHU Guadeloupe
VIMA Aging and chronic diseases. Epidemiological and public health approaches
VPMC Vulnérabilité cardiovasculaire, pathologies métaboliques et endocriennes
CHUM CHU Martinique
OSM Observatoire de la santé de la martinique
LIM05 - HCFMUSP Laboratory of Environmental Air Pollution

Help of the ANR 265,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: December 2019 - 36 Months

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