Environmental Health

Algal and Other Environmental Toxins Laboratory

About the Laboratory

Scientists at the Organic Geochemistry Research Laboratory (OGRL) in Lawrence, Kansas, develop and employ targeted and non-targeted analytical methods for identification and quantitation of known and understudied algal/cyanobacterial toxins that can impact the health of humans and other organisms. Newly acquired (2018) instrumentation will expand capabilities to continue toxin detection with increased throughput, connect toxin exposure with biomarkers to meet the growing demand for reliable algal toxin data and better define health effects thresholds.

Current Algal/Cyanobacterial Toxins Capabilities

Two scientists viewing data on a computer screen

Scientists reviewing data to determine instrument performance at the Algal Toxins Laboratory in Lawrence Kansas.

(Credit: Keith Loftin, USGS. Public domain.)



  • anatoxin-a 
  • BMAA 
  • cylindrospermopsin 
  • 10 microcystins 
  • nodularin-R 
  • saxitoxins

Marine Toxins 

  • azaspiracid-1
  • domoic acid 
  • dinophysistoxin-2 
  • gymnodimine 
  • okadaic acid 
  • pectinotoxin-2
  • 13-desmethyl-spirolide C
  • saxitoxins

Key Instrumentation

  • New (2019) 2,500 square foot modern laboratory facility
  • Onebioinert liquid chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometers for quantitation
  • One bioinert liquid chromatography high resolution mass spectrometers for identification of unknown chemicals and biomarkers of exposure
  • One tritimeter
  • An automated bioassay plate reader for toxin screening and toxicity endpoint measurement
  • An infrared spectrophotometer for chemical screening and structure illucidation
  • A handheld x-ray fluorescence analyzer for elemental analysis screening (such as metals)
  • One handheld hyperspectral radiometer for satellite validation
Keith A. Loftin, USGS, is the lead scientist for algal and cyanobacterial toxins

Keith A. Loftin, USGS, is the lead scientist for algal and cyanobacterial toxins laboratory and the Algal and other Natural Toxins Integrated Science Team (Credit: Ariel Donovan, USGS. Public domain.)



Keith A Loftin, Ph.D.

Research Chemist
Kansas Water Science Center
Phone: 785-832-3543

Michael Focazio, PhD

Environmental Health Program Coordinator
Phone: 703-648-6808

Geoffrey Plumlee, Ph.D.

Chief Scientist
Office of the Director
Phone: 703-648-6403