Understanding cylindrospermopsin and microcystin

Discussion in 'Survival Medicine' started by Dunerunner, Jun 2, 2018.

  1. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Brewery Monkey Moderator

    Thought about this because of the cylindrospermopsin and microcystin advisory for the Salem Oregon water thread Salem OR- Water advisory issued. What is it, how do you test for it and are there kits for testing or field tests you can perform should SHTF, and you need to collect drinking water.

    Saxitoxin, Microcystin, Cylindrospermopsin & Bravetoxin Test Kits | Algal Toxins

    It seems, from what I have been able to find online, that testing for these hepatotoxins is performed in a laboratory environment. I have found a company that produces a test strip that can be read with the naked eye, but they recommend using their digital reader and that to me rings of $$$$$ and I could not find anywhere they were sold.

    I did read where treating the water with powdered activated carbon can work but to my thinking you would be doing this in the blind, not knowing the concentrations before or after treatment.

    The blue green algae can live in lakes, ponds and streams so, to my thinking, just not collecting drinking water from a lake or stream would be risky, especially of algae are visually detected.
    More here Algal bloom - Wikipedia

    I'm thinking, finding water that isn't going to kill you in a SHTF situation may be more difficult than people believe. And boiling the water doesn't rid it of the toxin, it concentrates it.
    Ura-Ki, Tully Mars, techsar and 3 others like this.
  2. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Yes indeed...what you don't know can really mess up your day. Different varieties of algae produce various toxins...and some don't .

    Don't guess. Your life could be at stake.
    Dunerunner and Ura-Ki like this.
  3. Big Ron

    Big Ron Monkey++

    I read about a kind of blue-green algae being good for you. I do take Spirulina. I know its different
  4. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    Or you could just have a nice glass or 3 of Port.
    Like me.
    Honestly, I don't see how we ever got a country with most of the founding Fathers drinking this stuff. Don't get me wrong, it's bloody marvelous but I'm not exactly in a mind to put to pen (or should it be pin) something that would last 200 odd years..
    What the hell, cheers mates!!
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Like it or not, port is a good alternative to gastritis or worse.
  6. ochit

    ochit Monkey+

    If you live in a region that has this problem here is a site that has test strips a lot easier than the lab test and quicker.
    QUANTOFIX® Cyanide test strips here is a link. it in Germany but I am sure they are available here.
    Cyanide test strips - QUANTOFIX Cyanid test strips
    Dunerunner and Tully Mars like this.
  7. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    General rule of thumb, it the water is moving, it's likely not toxic, and If it's moving swiftly and well oxygenated, it's probably safe enough for a basic fingering and or chemical treatment. Out side of that, standing or still water is to be avoided at all costs, you have a better chance drinking your own expulsive then chancing it!
    This is a new twist, one we should be watching closely and If possable, preparing for! I have only questions so far, and little answers yet, but were digging in!
    Dunerunner likes this.
  8. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    Skip all the uncertainty and go directly to home distillation.

    Electricity makes it easy--you can distill gallons of safe water on a kitchen stove in a surprisingly short time.

    Start off with a large pot with an aluminum lid.

    Cut the hose off of the male end of a garden hose to expose the "barb" end.

    Drill the lid out to fit the hose barb, and push the barb through from the inside. (No gasket required. Put a rubber o-ring on the barb inside the lid if you wish. Or not, it's no biggie.)

    Push on 12" or so of clear vinyl tubing, hard up against the lid with no slack, and hose clamp it in place.

    The vinyl tubing makes a flexible transition, and the end will act like a low-pressure gasket on the outside of the lid.

    In a pinch, you can use a short piece of the original garden hose as the transition. It will fit perfectly on the barb, and the copper coil can be clamped inside it. Use a new food-grade hose if possible. If not, use whatever you have on hand,

    Run a coil of ten feet or more of 3/4" copper tube downhill from the end of the vinyl tube to another large pot, which can be set on a chair or on the floor. Clamp it, too.

    Add unsafe water to the pot (filled 3/4 at most) on the stove, put a couple of bricks (or other weights) on the lid, and start heating up the water.

    When it boils, steam will escape. Some from around the lid, maybe some around the hose barb, but most will go straight down the copper coil and be condensed into hot water.

    Any water that winds up in the bottom pot is safe to drink. Refill the upper pot as needed.

    Don't worry about "lost steam" from around the lid. There won't be much, if any.

    This is not a steam boiler, so it never builds up any significant steam pressure. That is what keeps it safe. The pot should not be steam tight like a pressure cooker. It should always be able to self-vent at low pressure.

    The bricks are mostly to keep the lid from rattling, or from being pulled off by the weight of the copper coil.

    Any pressure that tries to build up in the pot leaks straight out the large-diameter copper tube. Keep the heat low enough that steam doesn't jet out the end of the coil. You want condensed water to come out, not clouds of steam.

    You can use a turkey cooker with a propane burner, or just the turkey pot on the kitchen stove.

    Drink deeply. Never thirst.
    Ura-Ki and Tully Mars like this.
  9. Lancer

    Lancer TANSTAFL! Site Supporter+++

    And if you can keep the temperature of the liquid, accurately, between 174 - 195 deg F, (dependent upon mash ethanol percentage - measured), you can enjoy your own, err, distillate, while making your distilled water.

    In all seriousness: A quick look at the properties of the cyano class of compounds, (The PubChem Project), seems to indicate that a fair percentage of the compound would be carried along with the distillate. It has a low vapor pressure, and so would come off with the steam. Reverse osmosis seems to be the best solution, with fine grain activated filters running way behind. UV in high levels does degrade it somewhat, how much isn't stated that I can find with a quick search. High levels of chlorine works as well. http://www.neiwpcc.org/neiwpcc_docs/4Westrick-CyanotoxinRemovalinDWTreatmentProcesses.pdf
    ochit and Dunerunner like this.
  10. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    So this is a chemical not a bacteria ?
    Ura-Ki likes this.
  11. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    If it is a bacteria , then something like silver would suffocate it like it does all other bacteria.
    I think zinc will also kill bacteria .
    No matter it needs to be well proven before a solid solution is drawn .
    Wish I had a spectrometer .
  12. Lancer

    Lancer TANSTAFL! Site Supporter+++

    yeah, created by the algae
    Dunerunner likes this.
  13. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Like botulism, the danger is a compound created by the organism and not the algae itself. Thus sand filters, etc will not destroy it and while such products range from harmless, others as the prions in mad cow are resistant to almost any thing that you may throw at them. In my limited reading on distillation, it works very well if you can control the boiling point and condense and save only the narrow range of that you wish. In whiskies etc, they collect the good stuff and let the bad stuff go to waste. Parts of the run are bad and may kill you or make you sick. With water which contains hydro carbons, if you keep all the run, you will end up with the hydrocarbons as well. In most cases if you keep only the product that boils off from 200 to 215 or so you will be safe with water. Distillation is an exact science and the output of an oil refinery, adding the processes to modify or "crack" the distillates is a wonder to behold and a fine art. At it s best with distillation you can make almost anything drinkable, at its worst it is no better than a good boiling from a purification stand point. Not my area of expertise so I treat it like mushrooms, only use it when I know that the input water is safe. YMMV
    Ura-Ki and Dunerunner like this.
  14. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    Thanks, Lancer.

    I'll take the bit about vapor pressure as gospel.

    Distillation might still work if the cylindrospermopsin is easy to boil off. Just treat the first of the boil as "head stocks", and dispose of it. But the problem still remains of detection & measurement.

    Where do the headstocks end and the good stuff begin?
    duane and Ura-Ki like this.
  15. Lancer

    Lancer TANSTAFL! Site Supporter+++

    If/when SHTF, and I turn to what is politely termed "bootlegging", I fully intend to keep AND bottle the first and last cuts of the run. The first, under 174 Deg F, you get the lighter alcohols: Methanol, Isopropol,, aldehydes, acetone. Essentially paint thinner. These bottles of a fairly poisonous, but very aromatic, mixture will be displayed prominently should bad folks come calling that I don't want to deal with directly. Perfect "bait" to leave in an "abandoned" dwelling for the taking.
    Seawolf1090 likes this.
  16. ochit

    ochit Monkey+

    diatomaceous earth as a filter or addendum to filtration
    Water Treatability Database | US EPA

    EPA water treatment by contaminant, Find a contaminant and click on it and the tabs across the top guide you to the information your looking for.

    Treatment Processes
    Fate and Transport

    Water Treatability Database | US EPA

    Specific cyanide water treatment methods, BET method or (best available technologies) as per the EPA.
    Water Treatability Database | US EPA

    Water treatment utilities ( good ones ) have stringent regulations and well trained staff with proper equipment.
    Any toxic element that's boiling point is less than that of water will carry over to finished product, this is why numerous methods are used pre-distallation to strain the numerous natural and man made chemicals form water some of the man made ones are truly horrible and can bind with anything if their atomic structures allow. In an event where real information of the threat is not known or no public communications to give instructions then can we trust those instructions and even if we do, do we have the components to build the apparatus to filter and treat it for consumption. A good reason to store enough water for an extended period of time, time for nature to hopefully by rain flush much of the toxins away allowing your equipment to not be strained to the limit ( pun intended ). solar still collection of dew is possible if the contaminates are not airborne, by using a black plastic sheet over a with a rock in the center to allow the water to drip along the plastic to the center and fall into a container underneath. it can be done in a dug pit and can be augmented by chopping up vegetation or cactus that has water placing in the pit under the black plastic sheet. the issue is square footage / area to gather enough water, and temp and humidity conditions. black plastic sheeting does not last forever and if you buy it get the thickest MIL thickness you can get.
  17. Lancer

    Lancer TANSTAFL! Site Supporter+++

    In a quick search of the chem sites, I can't find a whole lot about the stuff except that there is actually a variety of essentially the same chemical, each created by a specific species of blue-green algae. Collectively know as cyano algae, all of which create cyano related compounds, that attack your hemoglobin. Essentially it acts that same way as cyanide, albeit more slowly - you suffocate to death because the compounds attach to the same site in your hemoglobin as the oxygen molecule.
    How to get rid of to make water potable? Dunnoh about a reasonable technique: reverse osmosis systems are available at residential sizes, but they all use a consumable filter cartridge. Something that can be used in SHTF? Have to think about that one for a while.
  18. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grampa Monkey

    Has any one invistagate Taking the temps up into the white steam range? I would think a second distillation sequence of the first cut brought up to "Full Steam" temps of appox 400° f, would not only kill off any thing, but neutralise any toxins! I have a lot of experience with Steam, and while it can be dangerous, it is well within the capabilities of a basic distillation prosess, just higher temps and pressures that need to be monitored and controlled! Depending on the HOW you heat, it can be done at home at a low cost, just depends on your set up!
  19. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    As a broad statement, temperature may break down some compounds and render them harmless, but I would not count on it. Chemical treatments are the only sure way, and finding the right chemical is going to be a chore.

    Now, I must add, that cyano-whatever toxins are rare in the US. I'm unwilling to make that a global, blanket statement, but back when we were designing surface water treatment systems, it was not a consideration. I WILL say that if there is algae floating around, there will be a risk of some sort in sucking up and drinking water with floaties in it. There are a slew of other organisms with undesirable effects, including parasites and other infectious "stuff." Focusing on cyano-whatever is not the place for a major effort in CONUS.
    Ura-Ki likes this.
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