To the Editor:
Regarding your article “Blue-green algae found in Chilmark Pond” (August 5), E. coli is not the only serious risk from blue-green algae. Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can contain an amino acid known as BMAA that is a neurotoxin. Prolonged proximity to this causes neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS.
I learned about this because my brother lived by Lake Champlain. He died five years ago from ALS. He was not a swimmer, but in addition to living near the lake, he was an avid boater. There has been a rise in ALS cases in northern New England, particularly among people who live by lakes, that has been linked to toxic cyanobacteria. This is believed to be linked to the use of fertilizers and other pollutants.
The documentary film “Toxic Puzzle” describes the work of doctors and scientists who are working on understanding this link.
I urge everyone on the Vineyard to be aware of this, as global warming also increases the presence of blue-green algae.