Overview of the Case Study

The case study analyzes environmental problems in Escambia County. The county faces a wide range of environmental issues like the red tide. The environmental issue in the area has forced the mayor and the Escambia county health department and other people to look for ways to combat the problem. The red tide has had a negative impact to the residents and the fish in the area. For example, the red tide has resulted to death of fish in the area and also increase in disease incidence. Most of the people in the area are likely to suffer from asthma and other diseases due to the presence of red tide in the area. The red tide has also been evidenced in other areas like Florida and it had devastating impact on the population. The red tide caused diseases and death to the residents and animals. The Escambia county health department does not have strategies to combat the red tide in the area. This is evidenced by the conversation between Dr. Lanza and the reporter. Hence, this has made it hard to prevent the red tide (Swayne &Ginter &Capper, 2002).

Key issues

The main issue in the case study is the red tide. The main cause of red tide is phytoplankton. The tides are caused by Gymnodium breve. The alga produces toxin. The toxins are not harmful when produced in low amounts and do not have any effect on the environment. However, high levels of the toxins are dangerous. For example, high concentration of the organisms during bloom affects environmental resources that are near the organisms. In addition, the high concentration of red tide affects living things including fish and human beings. Currently, the cell count concentration in the area is high and this has an effect on animals (Swayne &Ginter &Capper, 2002).

Another issue is the effect of the red tide on fish and human beings. The increase in cell count concentration in the area has resulted to death and diseases. Most of the fish in the area have died due to the toxins. For example, on 30th June, fish kills were reported in the area. Many fish in the area were washed up. For example, a total of 18 dolphins were washed up during this time. Most studies have proved that the red tide affect mostly shellfish. Apart from causing death of the fish in the area, the red tide has led to increase in respiratory diseases in the area. For example, Dr. Lanza argues that the high cell count could lead to increase in respiratory irritants and affect people living in the county and visitors. People in the area and fish can be exposed to the toxins through various ways.

First, organisms can be exposed to the toxins when they ingest the cells or consume toxic preys like birds and fish. They can also be exposed to the toxins via aerosol transport. Fish are more likely to be exposed to the toxins unlike human beings and hence are more likely to die than human beings. The main effect of the red tide is fish kill. Additionally, the high concentration of toxins in the area can cause gastrointestinal diseases if human beings feed on infected shellfish. Lastly, red tide cause breathing problems. This is mainly among people who live near the beach or visit the beach (Okaichi, 2004).

Apart from the major issues listed above, there are other issues. First, there is no clear plan to monitor the concentration of red tide in the area. This is evidenced by Lanza’s comments. Lanza argues that the health department does not have a plan to monitor the red tide and hence prevent them from affecting the residents. Dr. Lanza claims that there are limited solutions to prevent the red tide (Okaichi, 2004).



The health official has various strengths. First, the health official has enough knowledge on red tide and the effect they have on environmental resources, fish and humanbeings.This has made it easy for the health official to monitor the red tide regularly so as to be able to prevent the adverse effects caused by the tides. In addition, the health official is capable of protecting the public from unnecessary anxiety by ensuring only the relevant information is aired by the media. For example, the health official tries to prevent the reporter from reporting the high cell count so as to avoid causing panic and anxiety in the society (Okaichi, 2004).


The health department in the area has some weaknesses. First, the leaders in the health department are not able to devise the right strategies to combat red tide. The health department has minimal solutions to prevent the red tide. Lack of proper strategies to prevent the red tide has led to increase in deaths in the area and has subjected many people to diseases. In addition, the health official has some weaknesses as he is not open. The health official does not want to disclose information about the high cell count in the area so as to avoid scaring the public and causing anxiety (Okaichi, 2004).


The health official has failed to disclose information to the public so as to avoid affecting the tourism industry in the area. The tourism industry in the area has a lot of benefits to the residents. For example, it is the main source of income to the residents. The per capita income in the county in 1999 was almost $19,852.A large percentage of the residents in the county depends on the tourism industry in the area and closing it could lead to loss of jobs and increase the rate of poverty in the area. The closure of the beach in North Carolina in 1987 resulted to a loss of almost $25 million and high levels of poverty. Thus, the actions of the health official are beneficial to the residents and tourists.


Though the actions of the health official are beneficial, they have some disadvantages. First, failing to tell the truth to the public can lead to increase in death rates resulting from red tide. This is because the residents will be exposed to the toxins. In addition, failure to disclose information about the red tide could increase the rate of diseases in the society. This is because children and elderly people will contract respiratory diseases and gastrointestinal diseases. It has harm to the tourists in the area as they are likely to contract infections and hence increase the death rate (Coastal aservices center (US), 1998).

Plan 1

The health official can use the plan below to combat red tide in the area. The plan will focus on eliminating the causes of red tide. There are various causes of red tide like farm runoffs and human activities. The human activities lead to increase in nutrients loading in the sea. In this case, the officials will be required to control farm runoffs in the area so as to avoid the growth of red tide. They will also avoid human activities that cause red tide. The health official will educate the community on red tide. Most people in the society are not familiar with red tide and the causes and the impact of red tide. This makes it hard for the community to avoid carrying out human activities that cause red tide and farm runoffs. Hence, educating the public about the impact of red tide and causes can help prevent red tide in future. The health officials can use a health campaign or environmental campaign to educate the public (Coastal aservices center (US), 1998).

Alternative plan

Also, the health officials should work together with environmental officials in the area to monitor the waters regularly. They should develop a program that uses environmental testing equipment to observe algae and other organisms in the water. They should monitor waste disposal in the sea to determine if the sewage water is properly treated before being discharged to the sea. They should also monitor other wastes that are discharged to the sea to ensure they are well treated.

Plan 1 is better than the alternative plan above, because it helps the health officials work together with the community in controlling red tide. This makes the control of red tide in the waters effective. The alternative plan does not involve the public, but the environmental officials and health officials. Thus, the plan might not be effective in preventing red tide (Coastal aservices center (US), 1998).


Coastal aservices center (US).(1998).Coastal services: linking people, resources and information, Volumes 1-2. NOAA Coastal Services Center

Okaichi,T.(2004).Red tides. Springer

Swayne,L.E.,&Ginter,P.M.,&Capper,S.A.(2002).Public health leadership & management: cases and context. SAGE



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