MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Palm Beach County officials announced Thursday the closure of all county beaches effective immediately due to red tide affecting coastal areas.
Officials mentioned "health and safety concerns" as the main reason for taking their decision.
The Florida red tide organism, known as K. brevis, produces brevetoxins that can affect the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing these animals to die.
Wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release these toxins into the air, leading to respiratory irritation in humans.
For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness.
On Thursday, officials cited reports of throat, nose, and eye irritation.
Officials said that parking lots, picnic areas, and pavilions not on the beach will remain open.
There have been reports of limited fish kills and cleanup efforts are on the way, officials said.
Marine biology professor from University of Miami Dr. Brand discusses red tide:
Residents are asked to call 800-636-0511 to report fish kills, diseased fish, or fish with other abnormalities.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is offering $3 million in grants to St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to help mitigate the effects of red tide.
DEP and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have been in contact with each impacted county to ensure they have every resource needed to combat red tide. Additionally, DEP and FWC continue to monitor for red tide along Florida's coasts.
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