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PNS Daily Newscast - April 19, 2018 


A contentious Farm Bill heads to U.S. House for debate. Also on our rundown: gaps cited in protections for small-business employees and nonprofit volunteers; plus power out for much of Puerto Rico; and some warning signs, that increased youth activism may not correspond to voter turnout.

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Harmful Algae On the Rise in New England, Nation

Harmful blue-green algae is increasing in bodies of water. In Massachusetts, it has affected this year's shellfish harvest. (NASA)
Harmful blue-green algae is increasing in bodies of water. In Massachusetts, it has affected this year's shellfish harvest. (NASA)
June 30, 2016

WOODS HOLE, Mass. - Algal blooms in bodies of water in New England and across the nation are increasing. It's a combined result of climate change, farming practices, storm and wastewater runoff, and other environmental issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a new website about harmful algae, and is asking state and local health departments to keep track and report the blooms. Epidemiologist Virginia Roberts said they're easy to spot, most of the time.

"The slimy green stuff, sometimes it will look like, something like, thick paint in the water," she said. "There are multiple colors that it can be. You can find algae and algal blooms in fresh water, in salt water. They're often very visible, but sometimes you don't even see them there."

Roberts say the blooms are naturally occurring but produce toxins that get into the air, water or food, and can cause illness in humans and pets. They also deplete the oxygen in water, and that kills fish, mammals and birds. When the blooms get into drinking water, it causes it to have weird odor, often musty or earthy smelling.

Dr. Donald Anderson, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said the Bay State has seen some ponds and lakes affected by algae, but the major concern in recent years is marine blooms, which occur offshore.

"Those are pretty well over now," he said. "We did have a big section of Cape Cod that was closed for quite a while this year for shellfish harvesting, because of toxins that were accumulating in the shellfish."

The CDC said the fishing industry loses $38 million a year, and the recreation and tourism industries also lose millions, every time a body of water is closed because of too much algae. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution also offers information online about the harmful effects of algal blooms.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA