Here's A Question about potential ecological poisoning

This is my very first post and it’s a beauty. Please know that I tried my very best to make this as short as I could to get a helpful answer to my question. This is a serious question and some real and frightened people are depending on this answer.

I am a 55 year old woman who lives in Western Maryland. Last night I received an alarming phone call from my youngest brother who is 49 years old and lives in Waveland, Mississipi with his 7 year old son. For this purpose I will call him George.

George is a dyed in the wool southern man who dearly loves and is very loyal to Missisippi having lived in in this area of Mississipi for 40 years. It would not be an understatement to say George would rather die than leave Mississipi. George lives on and cares for the land that our older brother (who I will call Frank) has owned for about 20 years. Prior to that time my parents owned and lived on this land. Our brother Frank lives in California with his wife and is very busy with 7 children and 3 grandchildren. All but 2 children still living at home. Frank visits his brother and the land on the average of once or twice a year depending on his budget.

This land is a conservationist dream having been kept in it’s natural state. There has never been any construction on this land. My parents and George always lived in trailers and have a well. This land has been blessed with fresh water lakes that has been home in the past to aligators, turtles, fish and crawfish or all the typical water life of the area. Then there was the Hurricane Katrina and the land was under a great deal of water for a period of time. Like so many people in that area, my brother George and his young son lost everything. F.E.M.A. gave my youngest brother George and his son the temporary use of a trailer.

Recently my brother George became ill and was diagnosed with a brain tumor along with additional, and multiple symptoms that the doctors have yet to find the causes of. This is a blow since now George can no longer work.

Now this story gets scary:

My youngest brother started noticing changes on the property.

My youngest brother began noticing that the fish are now a not normal huge as are the crawfish. These and other changes has been really troubling him. At first he thought perhaps it was because his brother’s land was under flood waters for a time and that the mixing of salt water from the bay mixed with the fresh water of the lakes and caused the many changes to the life with-in the lakes. but the situation got even more scarier…

My youngest brother took his young son fishing on one of the lakes as has been his custom most of his life. As the day came to an end and it started to get dark he noticed a very strange thing. The water glowed! When he threw something into the water it the ripples glowed with a blue and green color. As he explained it to me, the water glowed like it was liquid metal plugged into an electrical current! This experience so shook my brother and not knowing what to do, he called the local police. They sent a police car and soon there were 3 additonal police cars parked on the property with the occupants staring out over the glowing lakes.

We are suspecting the placement of Mercury poisening during the flood of Hurricane Katrina but we are aware we know very little to nothing about the cause of these disturbing signs. George also tells me that his neighbors, a large family with several children are also having un-explained illnesses. I am online searching for answers/help for my brothers especially George who is having a very tough time of this.

Our question for here is: What could be causing these symptoms to the lakes?/Where can we find more information and advice on this?

Thank you for your valuable time,

Me11y :>)

I suspect the glowing water is due to bioluminescence rather than mercury pollution. Tiny organisms than live in the sea called dinoflagellates (plankton) can produce light when stimulated, a process called bioluminesence. When the flooding occured, it probably introduced a bioluminescent dinoflagellate into the lakes, which has grown because of the increased saliity and the lack of natural predators. whenever you agitated the water, it cause these tiny creatures to produce a burst of light. They are harmless.

http://epa.gov/region4/
Your state EPA link, they have offices for this kind of problem.
Get a sample of the water and take it to your local county commissioner and tell them you want it tested. There should be a lab where the community water is regularly tested.
Take your brother to the hospital and have him tested for mercury poisoning, It’s not that difficult to find out if you really think that is a possibility.

If the water IS actually glowing then get some pictures and witnesses that can and will testify to the fact and call a lawyer.

I can’t imagine this hasn’t been brought to the EPA’s attention but you know how it is. People think somebody else is going to do it so they don’t have to get involved. I have a lot of family in the gulf coast region where Katrina hit. I feel for ya.
Take care and good luck, JB

and like Fear was saying there are non-toxic ways in which the water could be glowing. In fact, he’s probably right but I’d want to know for sure myself.

http://www-cyanosite.bio.purdue.edu/

try this: cyanobacteria, I knew what Fear was talking about was familiar. It’s a type of blue/green algae that can be luminescent. I’m not sure about the harmless part though. I know certail dinoflagellates can be toxic to humans. One in particular “red tide” can be deadly and is often found in oysters and shellfish.
Responsible for a tumor though, I kinda doubt it.

I know there’s a big problem in N.O. where some of my kin live. They’ve got a lot of toxic ground in the area and many people can’t return to their homes even yet, if ever.

http://biology.missouristate.edu/phycology/toxic-algae.htm

Yep, there’s lots of toxic algae out there. lot’s of marine biologists working on the problem too. seems like they’re having problems with the side effects of the chemicals used to treat the algae blooms as well. Mississippi especially.

Yeah, I’d definitely contact the local water board, parks dept. or EPA agent in the area and get some samples.

BTW I’m really sorry about your brother. I hope he gets better.
I lost my father this summer to almost the same thing. Make the most of each day.
Prayers to you and yours.
~JB

http://www.google.com/search?q=tumors+caused+by+toxic+algae&btnG=Search&hl=en&lr=

This question sparked my curiosity, obviously.
Apparently toxic algae, certain types of cyanobacteria can cause the development/growth of tumors in humans and animals along with a variety of other problems.
Do a search of waveland, mississippi and toxic algae. There are quite a few link discussing the problem.
I think I’ll let another poster with more knowledge about this take it from here.
~JB

Welcome to the boards, Me11y. I’ve edited the title of your thread to make it more descriptive. The better your title, the more people read the thread. Good luck.

samclem GQ moderator

The Mississippi Dept of Environmental Quality is the first place I’d look. From their web site:

Link: http://www.deq.state.ms.us/MDEQ.nsf/page/ERC_CitizensQuestions?OpenDocument

Link for MDEQ’s page on Katrina issues:
http://www.deq.state.ms.us/MDEQ.nsf/page/Main_HurricaneKatrinaDisasterRecovery?OpenDocument

Link to some reports on the assessment of water quality, post-Katrina:
http://www.deq.state.ms.us/MDEQ.nsf/page/Main_PostKatrinaMonitoringWebSites?OpenDocument
Link to surface water assessment team:
http://www.deq.state.ms.us/MDEQ.nsf/page/FS_SurfaceWaterQualityAssessments?OpenDocument

The MDEQ staff folks I have worked with in the past are most helpful. They take their responsibilities seriously. Good luck.

I was so grateful when I returned to this board. I didn’t expect as many, vastly helpful replies so soon! Thank you all from our hearts. At least I now have map for the process of elimination which is !00% more than I had. Thanks to you all I will get some sleep tonight.

I will get this information to my brothers as ASAP and will update you as I get informed on this situation. Again thanks a lot :>)

Let me know if I can be of any help. I’m a couple hundred miles from Waveland but I know a good many people at the DEQ.

Are you saying toxic from something besides algae\dinoflagellates? If so, what kind of contamination? I’m familiar with sediment testing done in New Orleans and nothing was found other than what you’d normally find in an urban area (i.e. moderate lead, metals, and oil but not high enough to require immediate clean up).

Also, the undersized fish and crustaceans may well be quite normal in a recovering ecosystem, or at least, it seems entirely plausible to me that the most vulnerable indivduals in a population would be at both ends of the age range.

I can only relate what my family said. I have a lot of kinfolk in the area. One of whom is in real estate. She owns a couple of apartment buildings and a few houses. When I saw her two weeks ago she said they had property the EPA had condemned as being toxic. They can’t do anything with it and the insurance company won’t payoff on it. From what I gathered it wasn’t an isolated case. Simply cleaning it up wasn’t an option. They actually have to remove several layers of soil and replace it.
I will try and get some specifics next time we talk. Sorry I don’t have more.

Hello All :>)

I am still waiting for my brother to get back to me so I can give him all this great info. Stay tuned for the update

jimbeam I am sorry that your family is also going through the tough times that go with Hurricane Katrina. I can’t help but ask you, Is your family from New Orleans? Did you grow up in New Orleans?

My mother’s family is from New Orleans, my father’s from East Texas. I lived there for a few years growing up and spent a few summers there on vacation plus several visits over the years. Several cousins live across the river in Mississippi as well.
btw, my middle name is french

I guess you could say, “I come from down de bayou. I eat dem crawdads and suck de head too.” (heh just funnin), I never aquired a taste for the heads but I’ve got enough coonass in me to say… If it don’t eat me first, it’s fair game. :wink: