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I miss the lake. Watching the turtles slide off the logs, seeing the water break into circular ripples as a fish surfaces to catch a tasty insect, or seeing the occasional rare migrating bird like the Black Crowned Night Heron is no longer a unique occurrence since I moved.
There are numerous pros to living on a lake. But, there is one big con. It has been discovered that blue-green algae blooms produce a neurotoxin. This neurotoxin is called beta-methyl-amino-alanine, more easily said as BMAA. Motor neurons are affected by low levels BMAA. Hence, suspicion and investigation into its link to Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS, Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Paul Allen Cox is the director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, a research institute in Hawaii. Cox contacted blue-green algae experts from around the world and asked them to send him samples. Thirty samples from rivers, lakes and oceans were sent to Cox. Of the thirty samples, twenty-nine tested positive for BMAA. It is all over the planet and it appears to be moving up the food chain.
Studies both in Canada and Miami have shown that the brains of Alzheimer patients who have lived near a body of water where blue-green algae is common have been found to contain this toxic substance. New research is being conducted to discover if people eating fish, whose diet includes algae, may also carry BMAA in their brains.
Blue-green algae can be eliminated from ponds and lakes with chemical treatments. But, can local water treatment plants remove it? Is this an indication that microorganisms will be the next dominant species? What’s next--brain eating amoebas? (Opps! They are already here.) Guess I’ll go sit on the river bank and cogitate about invisible life forms.
“Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.”
©Ann Rains--August, 2011
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