Monthly Archives: August 2013

War of words builds over possible regulation of lead bullets

By Julian Hattem,

Wildlife conservationists are facing off against the gun lobby over hunters’ use of lead bullets.

This month, the National Rife Association (NRA) announced a new campaign to discourage regulators and lawmakers from limiting the use of lead bullets, which birds like eagles and vultures sometimes eat by accident and then contract lead poisoning.

The gun group calls the effort to regulate the bullets, as California is currently considering, an “assault on traditional lead ammunition” that is based in bad science.

Conservationists looking to protect the birds have fired back.

In the last five days, more than 50,000 people have signed a Sierra Club petition calling on the NRA to abandon its campaign.

“You’d think the NRA would want to protect the bald eagle – the very bird that is in their logo. But, it’s a mistake to expect logical thinking from an organization that constantly attacks policies even their own members support,” said Dan Chu, the organization’s senior director for its wildlands campaign, in a statement. “The truth is that non-toxic ammunition is accessible and effective for hunters and it helps preserve some of the most important parts of our nation’s unique wild heritage.”

Lawmakers have asked the federal government to get involved. Read more


Home mold problems up in wake of wet summer

Mold and rust on the wall

Mold and rust on the wall (Photo credit: Cornell Fungi)


By Sabian Warren,


With record rainfall in the mountains this spring and summer, experts say it’s a good idea to check your home’s basement or crawl space for an unwelcome and stealthy intruder – mold.


Area home repair companies that tackle mold problems report a sharp increase in the number of cases, which are usually caused by water that seeps underneath homes and – in some cases – goes undetected by the occupants for some time.


“We’ve seen a 100 percent increase in the last month,” Sharon Green, owner of Paul Davis Restoration in Fletcher, said of her July calls for service related to water damage and mold. “It’s something that, unfortunately, people don’t look at a lot. Most people don’t go in their crawl space.”


Experts say indoor mold can cause respiratory problems for people who are in close proximity, and the dampness that mold needs to thrive, if left unchecked, can lead to structural damage in a home. Read More



Short-term asbestos exposure triggers mesothelioma

Reported by

The recent death of a British man from mesothelioma is evidence of the destructive power of asbestos – even when exposure is short.

A British newspaper reports that Welwyn resident Roger Beale first began experiencing a classic symptom of mesothelioma, shortness of breath, nearly 4 years ago. Beale first noticed the problem while walking up stairs. After a chest X-ray, Beale’s symptoms were attributed to a chest infection.

But when his symptoms continued to worsen, Beale sought medical care again in January, 2010 and was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, an intractable cancer of the lung lining that is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. By November of 2010, Beale’s shortness of breath had gotten worse, despite regular monitoring and treatment and he died at the age of 67.

Although mesothelioma is alarmingly common in the UK, the region with the world’s highest per capita rate of the cancer, Beale’s case was unique. To his knowledge, his only known exposure to the asbestos dust that triggered his mesothelioma occurred in 1967 for only two to three days. It was during that time that Beale worked in a factory where he was required to cut asbestos with a circular saw. Without protection, Beale likely inhaled a substantial amount of the deadly asbestos dust that is the primary cause of mesothelioma. Read More


Mold Controlled Robot is the stuff of Science Fiction and Nightmares

The wet summer months have seen a marked increase in mold throughout the country. Last month we shared a story about something called slime mold which was proving itself a nuisance to homeowners as it took over their yards.

At a recent Living Machines conference in London, researchers at the University of the West of England in Bristol shared a robotic face they had programmed to respond to electronic signals emitted by the spongy yellow blobs.

When the mold moves towards a food source, the robotic face registers a positive expression. When light is introduced and the mold recoils the face looks upset.

“The robot aspect was incorporated as a technology showcase, essentially to show that we can take data from biology and link it to robots,” the university’s Dr. Ella Gale said in a Huffington Post article . “We found that we could pick up and differentiate what the slime mold was doing in response to stimuli, such as light.”

Check out the video to see the robot respond to different stimuli, and possibly fuel a few of your upcoming nightmares.

Tips to improve your indoor air quality

Cleaning the air cooler filter at Stacken.

Cleaning the air cooler filter at Stacken. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




ou pride yourself on keeping a clean home. The laundry is washed, the dishes are dry and the den where the children built their pillow fort has been restored to sanity. You’ve been vigilant about cleaning up the messes you can see, but what about the messes you can’t? What are you doing to improve the air quality in your home?


You may not think about the air quality in your home because the problem isn’t visible, but that doesn’t stop dust, dander or chemicals from polluting your air. Everyday living generates up to 40 pounds of dust in a six-room house every year, according to the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), the HVAC Inspection, Maintenance and Restoration Association.


Taking steps to clean the air in your home will do more than just improve air quality; it will also save you money. Twenty-five to 40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling a home is wasted because contaminants in the heating and cooling system cause it to work inefficiently, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.


If you’re interested in improving the air quality in your home and saving money while you do it, here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction.


Read More


Source of Boy’s Mysterious Lead Poisoning Was in an Unlikely Place

By Bahar Gholipour,


An 8-year-old boy in Australia had high levels of lead, a toxic metal, in his blood for more than two years for unexplained reasons, until doctors found lead pellets in his body, trapped in an unlikely place, according to a new report of his case.

Doctors had tested the boy for toxins in looking for the cause of his unusually hyperactive behavior. They found levels of lead in his blood ranging from 17.4 to 27.4 microgram per deciliter, much higher than the level of 5 micrograms considered normal. But the source remained mysterious — doctors couldn’t find what the boy might have been touching, inhaling or eating, to have such high lead levels for months.

When the boy started to have a stomachache and was admitted to the hospital, the doctors did an x-ray, which revealed large numbers of small round objects in the boy’s abdomen, according to the researchers, who published a case report in Aug. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

An x-ray image showing objects inside the abdomen. Credit: The New England Journal of Medicine ©2013.

An x-ray image showing objects inside the abdomen.
Credit: The New England Journal of Medicine ©2013.

The metallic-looking objects were in the lower right side of the boy’s abdomen, appearing to be inside the digestive tract. The doctors immediately gave the boy a bowel washout, which should have cleared any object within his digestive tract, but a second x-ray showed the objects had not moved.

The doctors suspected the unlikely scenario – the objects had to be in the boy’s appendix.

In surgery, the doctors removed the boy’s appendix and cut it open, revealing 57 lead pellets trapped inside.

“It’s one of those things you only see once in a life time,” said Dr. Ibrahim Zardawi, the pathologist who examined the appendix. “I’ve been in medicine for almost 40 years now, and had never seen anything like this.”

The boy’s appendix weighed 5 times heavier than normal when containing the pellets, but other than few tissue scars, it was normal and wasn’t inflamed.

Read More

The day slime mold invaded my front yard

English: Dog Vomit Slime Mold or Scrambled Egg...

English: Dog Vomit Slime Mold or Scrambled Egg Slime Fuligo septica, Family: Physaridae, Location: Germany, Biberach Deutsch: Gelbe Lohblüte oder Hexenbutter Fuligo septica, Familie: Physaridae, Fundort: Deutschland, Biberach (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


By Jenny Marder,


About a week ago, we noticed an intruder in our front yard — a vivid yellow, blob-like substance that appeared to be invisibly oozing across our garden mulch like the beginnings of a horror film. My first thought was, naturally, will it creep into the house through the windows, consume my family and then feed on our brains?


But upon further research, I discovered the culprit — slime mold. I had slime mold in my garden. And not just any kind of slime mold. The kind affectionately known as “dog vomit.”


Like any homeowner, I was thoroughly grossed out and wanted it gone. But like any decent journalist, I needed some pictures first. Plus, I had no idea what to do with the stuff. Was it dangerous? Was it harmful to touch? To breathe? So I took a trek to my local garden shop for guidance. Read More


Asbestos-ridden home to be encased in bubble

By Emma Macdonald and Tom McIlroy,

Something quite remarkable is about to take place on an otherwise unremarkable suburban street.

Starting in the next week, an enormous plastic bubble will encase a small brick bungalow home on Bradfield Street in Downer, as the ACT government spends $2 million removing asbestos insulation from the home and 30 centimetres of topsoil from the site.

Passersby paid no particular attention to the dilapidated white house surrounded by temporary fencing on Monday, but neighbours who had learned about planned removal works in an ACT government letter said they were concerned for their safety and the work’s impact on local property prices.

A look through the fence showed air vents sealed with duct tape and plastic, a debris-filled garden and a pile of warning signs strewn outside the garage. One resident said three months of noise and traffic disruption was a small enough price to pay for improved safety and the destruction of ”an eyesore”. Read More