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Coming soon: Red Tide forecasts for where the beach air is good — or bad

The Red Tide algae bloom now afflicting Pinellas County’s beaches doesn’t just kill fish and other marine life. It also can cause respiratory problems for people.

When the bloom’s toxins get picked up by breezes blowing toward land, anyone who inhales them is likely to wind up coughing, sneezing and wheezing. For people who already suffer from respiratory problems, the toxins can produce more severe symptoms.

However, there’s no way of knowing in advance which beaches have bad air.

Now local and federal government agencies are working on fixing that problem.

Pinellas County has formed a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to produce a forecast for which beaches to avoid because Red Tide toxins are in the air. According to officials from both agencies, this will be a first-of-its-kind forecast.

"We’re excited to see how this comes out," said Kelli Hammer Levy, director of the Pinellas County environmental management department.