A toxin linked to neurodegenerative diseases has been found in blue-green algae in Lake Winnipeg.

A study from UBC's Okanagan campus has found BMAA is present in high concentrations during cyanobacteria blooms in Lake Winnipeg. Blue-green algae has been an issue on Lake Winnipeg for several years. The study says the problem has been exacerbated by things like climate change and eutrophication.

Susan Murch, a professor of chemistry and the lead author of the study, says the amount of BMAA found was interesting because at different parts of the lake and different parts of the bloom there were different levels of the toxin.

"Some areas had no BMAA at all, and then the highest level we found was 22.5 micrograms per gram, in the northeastern part of the bloom," says Murch.

BMAA has been found in blue-green algae in many different parts of the world, says Murch. And it's been found to bioaccumulate.

"In other parts of the world, what we've found is BMAA accumulates from the cyanobacteria into fish, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, sharks, shark fins, and then from that trophic level, that level of the ecosystem, up into higher levels... eventually into people."

Murch says the accumulation in the food web is the real concern, and we need to develop ways to monitor the bloom, control its size, and the accumulation of BMAA in the ecosystem.

The study from UBC didn't look into fish or water samples in Lake Winnipeg directly. Blue-green algae samples were collected by the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium in July and September of 2016.

The province says in a statement its aware of the study and is reviewing it. It says Manitoba does significant monitoring and testing of Lake Winnipeg water quality, and routinely posts water advisories if there are any health concerns.