February 2019 – Lake Wyangan (New South Wales) – Blue Green Algae
We explore the link between NSW waterways and a toxin that might trigger MND.
Professor Dominic Rowe of Macquarie Neurology says, “From 1986 to 2016, there’s been a 250% increase in Motor Neurone Disease as a cause of death in Australia and that can only be environmental…”
Research overseas has linked the neurotoxin BMAA, a by-product of blue-green algae, to MND. This toxin was recently discovered in Lake Wyangan in NSW.
It’s also been found in a number of other drought-affected New South Wales waterways, including along the Darling River.
Professor Rowe says, “If we can understand what in the environment triggers Motor Neurone Disease, conceivably we could prevent [it] from even occurring.”
Tim Trembath, an MND sufferer, lives at Lake Cargelligo, which is 140-kilometers north of Griffith. He’s spent a lot of time at this lake, where there’s been an outbreak of blue-green algae.
Tim says, “Up until about 2010, the lake water was the water that was used for drinking and washing in the town.”
The disease has stripped Tim of his ability to ride his motorbike and he needs regular care. Two of his friends in the 1500-resident town have died from MND.
“Anyone who lives in this town has probably swum in the lake, and the lake has algal blooms in it nearly every summer.”
While it’s easy to assume there’s a link between these waterways and MND, Professor Rowe says, “It is highly unlikely that there’s going to be one specific environmental trigger, it’s likely to be a combination of factors.”