Decision support tool

Background information


Some cyanobacteria produce potent toxins and are thus a threat to human health either through contaminated drinking water or bathing in infested water bodies.

Cyanotoxins can be grouped according to their mode of action into:

  1. Hepatotoxins (microcystins, nodularins)
  2. Cytotoxins (cylindrospermopsins)
  3. Neurotoxins (anatoxins, saxitoxins)
  4. Dermatoxins (aplysiatoxin, lyngbyatoxin)
  5. Inflammatory substances (lipopolysaccharides)

In addition, cyanotoxins can be grouped according to their chemistry such as peptides (e.g. microcystins), alkaloids (e.g. anatoxins) and lipopolysaccharides.

Below you will find short fact sheets about the different types of toxins.

Microcystins (MCYST or MC)

Nodularins (NOD)

Cylindrospermopsin (CYN)


Paralytic shellfish poisons (PSP, syn saxitoxins)

Lynbyatoxin and Aplysiatoxin

Lipopolysaccharides (LPS)

Beta-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA)

[1] LD50

The median lethal dose of a substance, or the amount required to kill 50% of a given test population.