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Closing in on ALS? Link Between Lethal Disease and Algae
Scientists are investigating whether breathing a neurotoxin produced by algae may raise the risk of developing Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. They have a long way to go, however: While the toxin does seem to kill nerve cells, no research, even in animals, has confirmed the link to ALS.

For 28 years, Bill Gilmore lived in a New Hampshire beach town, where he surfed and kayaked. “I’ve been in water my whole life,” he said. “Before the ocean, it was lakes. I’ve been a water rat since I was four.”

Now Gilmore can no longer swim, fish or surf, let alone button a shirt or lift a fork to his mouth. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with ALS. As with all ALS patients, no one knows what caused Bill Gilmore’s disease. But in recent years, some research has focused on blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria.

Cyanobacteria – some of the oldest organisms on the planet – can occur wherever there is moisture. Blooms are fed largely by nutrients in agricultural and urban runoff.

Some cyanobacteria produce toxic compounds that can sicken people.


 
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$100,000 Grant will Aid in the Fight to Eradicate Eurasian Milfoil - Eurasian milfoil, originally native to parts of Eurasia and North Africa, is now found in waterways across New York, including Black Lake, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The weed’s stems can grow up to 10 feet in length, and its green feathery leaves routinely gum up shorelines, can choke out the habitat of native plants and fish and are blamed by some for ruining overall water quality.


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