Cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, which are typically dominant in eutrophic waters (nutrient-rich), can produce toxins. Cyanotoxins are produced by cyanobacteria, and include a wide variety of biotoxins that affect multiple organs and tissues in wildlife. Cyanotoxins have become more common in modified landscapes across the United States with highly variable toxin production between and even within cyanobacterial species, across different locations and timeframes, resulting in unpredictable impacts to wildlife associated with cyanobacterial blooms. Presence of microcystin and other cyanotoxins in reservoirs, lakes and rivers represent a potential significant risk to wildlife and public health. Reported health problems attributed to drinking water contaminated with cyanotoxins have increased in recent years.


BSA Environmental Services provides multiple methods for identification and enumeration of potentially toxigenic (PTOX) cyanobacteria species and provides detection and quantification of toxins in biological systems using multiple methods, allowing our clients to utilize the most appropriate test based on their budget and for the specific location or project of interest. New detection methodologies have been developed in recent years, including the use of Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) which is an effective screening tool at a lower cost. Our exceptional services and cyanobacterial toxin analysis results can be relied upon to help our government and commercial clients effectively monitor drinking and recreational water quality and make timely management decisions.


BSA provides ELISA testing by USEPA approved Standard Method 546 for the detection of microcystins, anatoxin-a, cylindrospermopsin, and saxitoxins (paralytic shellfish toxins). BSA uses ELISA kits provided by Abraxis and a Cyanotoxin Automated Assay System (CAAS), an automated, microtiter plate format analyzer for quantitative determination of anatoxin-a, cylindrospermopsin, microcystins, and saxitoxins. The analyzer is computer controlled and capable of automating all the steps of both ELISA assays including fluid handling, plate mixing, incubation/timing, optical reading, calculations and reports. Our CAAS system produces rapid, reliable, and consistent results, detecting saxitoxin values as low as 0.02 ppb, cylindrospermopsin and microcystin values as low as 0.05 ppb, and anatoxin-a as low as 0.15 ppb.


BSA performed the microcystin analyses for the 2012 National Lakes Assessment.


  • Microcystins

  • Cylindrospermopsin

  • Saxitoxin

  • Anatoxin-a