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Health departments in Pittsfield and Lanesborough are advising residents to avoid swimming in Pontoosuc Lake until it can be tested for a cyanobacteria bloom.

Boards of Health Issue Advisory on Algae Bloom in Pontoosuc

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state Department of Public Health has identified visual evidence of algae in Pontoosuc Lake that may exceed the department's guidelines for recreational water bodies in Massachusetts.   
Guidance from DPH's Bureau of Environmental Health has prompted the Pittsfield Health Department and Lanesborough Board of Health to issue a public health advisory emphasizing that swimming and boating is not advisable until test results for presence of a cyanobacteria bloom are available and can be confirmed early next week; until this determination, the advisory for no swimming and boating in the lake is in effect, stated the city's Public Health Director Gina Armstrong.
As of Thursday, July 25, the DPH has advisories listed for eight harmful algae blooms in the state, from Cape Cod to central Massachusetts.
Per recommendations from the state:
People are advised to avoid contact with the water in the affected area.  When in doubt, it's best to keep out. 
• Individuals should not swim, paddle, boat, or fish in any section of the waterbody where the water is discolored or where you see foam or mats of algae on the water's surface. 
• People should rinse off with fresh water immediately if they or their pet comes into contact with the water.  If they believe they or their pet are experiencing any adverse health effects, they should contact their doctor or veterinarian immediately 
According to Marc Nascarella, chief toxicologist for the DPH, blue-green algae flourishes in hot weather and nutrient-laden storm water. As the region experiences more hot days and heavy rainstorms, harmful algal blooms will become more common.
Algae blooms can change the water's appearance from slightly discolored to resembling pea soup or thick paint.  Blooms frequently appear blue or green but could be another color, such as brown or red.  You cannot tell if a bloom has toxins by looking at it.  Algae blooms can also give the water a bad odor or taste. 
For additional information, the public is encouraged to visit the following websites:

Tags: algae,   health advisory,   Pontoosuc,   

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BCC Graduates Recognized in Remote Commencement

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Any other year, the graduates of Berkshire Community College and their friends and families would be filling The Shed at Tanglewood in Lenox.

But instead of taking the stage, speakers stood alone in front of a backdrop. And instead of being handed their certificates and diplomas, the more than 200 graduates' names were read as their pictures were shown. 
What didn't change was the ceremony's broadcast on Pittsfield Community Television, allowing at least a virtual coming together of the BCC community to mark their significant accomplishments.
President Ellen Kennedy reminded those watching how commencement celebrates not just the achievements but the persistence of the graduates in often overcoming life challenges to walk across the Tanglewod stage.   
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