MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - A Martin County business is closing up shop, temporarily, because of potentially toxic algae just feet away from their doorstep.
Florida Sportsman Magazine is not closing because of financial impacts. This time, it is solely because of health concerns.
Staff posted a sign on their door Wednesday reading "Closed. Toxic Algae Fumes."
They say they can smell the algae inside the building, located along Kanner Highway near Monterey Road.
Like preparing for a hurricane, Wednesday, they locked up and left, only to return when they know for sure that it is safe.
“This isn’t too unlike what we’ve had to do in previous hurricanes. Shutter the windows, and figure out how we’re going to bring magazines to the press working remotely,” said publisher Blair Wickstrom.
Wickstrom expects the staff will be working remotely for a couple weeks.
But, if the blue-green algae don't wash away, they might need a new location.
Wickstrom says he could see the algae getting worse this week. Employees were reporting symptoms like scratchy eyes, runny noses, and nausea. He felt sick, too.
“When they came to me for two days, there was no way we could continue,” Wickstrom said.
No air quality testing has been done to confirm their fears of toxins in the air near their workplace.
For now, no agencies have signed on to conduct air quality testing.
The last air quality tests near algae were done in 2016. Results found toxins could become airborne when agitated. However, there are no set standards for inhalation risks.
Those unknowns are another driving force behind the temporary closure.
The Florida Department of Health continues to remind people to stay away from the algae they see. There is no standard recommendation for how far away to stay from the algae, saying people should use their best judgment.