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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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Michigan’s Fight Against Invasive Asian Carp - Faced with the threat that Asian carp could enter the Great Lakes, Michigan is turning to the public for new ideas and plans to offer a prize to whoever comes up with a way to stop the voracious fish.


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