In the last few years, researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center have been looking into a possible connection between cyanobacteria from blue-green algae blooms and the neurodegenerative disease ALS.
The research is preliminary, so any possible correlation is not proven. But the studies — and the issue of algae blooms in northern New England — are the subject of a new documentary by Jackie Heltz, a filmmaker who grew up in Williston.
Heltz spoke to VPR's Henry Epp. Listen to their full conversation above.
“There is a lot that we do know about cyanobacteria, blue-green algae,” Heltz said. “It is undeniably not good for you, and not good for your pets, and not good for where you live. … Part of the angle and aim was how not good is it for you?”
Heltz said she agrees with Vermont health officials that the research is still preliminary, “but I don’t think that it should be dismissed,” she said. “I mean, at the end of the day I’d rather it not be so — I don’t want the lakes and ponds and rivers that we love here to be hurting people. But I think if the direction we need to move in is a mass cleanup for the sake of ourselves and our environment, we might as well entertain that."
As for working on a film with her father, Heltz said the experience was "beneficial" — but also challenging at times.
“We are a generation apart, so there’s definitely kind of a collaboration but also sometimes a collide in simple things like filming styles or editing styles.”
Heltz’s film will be shown Sunday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. as part of the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.