What we really know about the controversial aquatic neurotoxin BMAA
The neurotoxin BMAA is suspected to play a role in the neurodegenerative diseases Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. BMAA was reportedly produced by cyanobacteria, and the main global human exposure routes were expected to be through ingestion of BMAA contaminated waters or BMAA contaminated food, such as fish and shellfish. However, whether BMAA was really present in aquatic systems, and if so, at what levels, became the subject of a fierce scientific debate. In this thesis, we show that reported differences in BMAA concentrations in aquatic systems can be tracked down to the way BMAA determination was performed. We conclude that BMAA can be present in aquatic systems and food intended for human consumption, but at lower concentrations than initially reported. As long as the link between BMAA and the abovementioned neurodegenerative diseases is not firmly established, it is unclear whether these concentrations form a threat to human health.