Blog Archives

River bacteria that killed Mechanicsville man identified

By Laura Kebede, Richmond Times-Dispatch

VibrioBacteriaThe river bacteria that contributed to the death of a Mechanicsville man last week has been identified as Vibrio vulnificus, a health official said.

Charlie Horner, 75, died after a cut from a catfish barb became infected with the bacteria Saturday at the Rappahannock River in Essex County. His leg was amputated Monday to stall the spread of the infection, but he died two days later.

Horner’s was the first death of 2015 reported in Virginia attributed to Vibrio vulnificus. There have been 17 cases so far this year, five of which were from wound infections, according to preliminary state data.

Vibrio vulnificus naturally occurs in brackish and salt water, especially during the warmer months, including in parts of the James River as it mixes with salt water from the Chesapeake Bay. Its prevalence peaks in July because the bacteria replicates faster in warmer water. It can enter the bloodstream through open wounds or cuts, or when a person eats contaminated shellfish. Read more

How Germs Might Shape the Future of Architecture

By Vicky Gan, http://www.citylab.com/

We know that buildings can make us sick. Take, for example, cases of lead poisoning, mold exposure, or the aptly named Sick Building Syndrome. But cabiobuildingn they also make us healthier? Scientists are trying to answer that very question, starting with detailed studies of the microbes that populate our homes and offices. The end goal? Using this information to design structures constructed with bodies in mind.

This is a big shift in how we’ve previously conceptualized microbial life. We’ve long treated bacteria as the enemy. But it turns out that few of the germs we’re constantly trying to kill with hand sanitizer actually cause disease—and the more bacteria we have on the whole, the better. In fact, our habit of ultrasterilization appears to be hurting us. A number of recent studies have lent credence to the so-called “hygiene hypothesis,” which attributes the uptick in autoimmune and allergic diseases, including eczema and asthma, to a lack of early childhood exposure to germs. Read more

Firefighters test positive for toxic mold exposure

By John Dzenitis, http://www.wpbf.com/

firefightersmoldTwo firefighters have tested positive for toxic mold exposure, and the firefighters’ union believes old, run-down fire stations are to blame.

The two firefighters worked at Station No. 7 in Vero Beach and Station No. 10 in Fellsmere. In recent years, O’Connor said the firefighters have been complaining about leaky roofs at their stations, as well as mold and dead rats in the ceiling.

“We became very concerned when a lot of guys were complaining about watery eyes, upper respiratory infections, runny noses,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor claims the county has largely ignored firefighters’ complaints, and not enough money has been allocated to fixing up fire stations with serious health concerns. Read more

Black fungus may provide cheaper jet fuel

By Brett Smith, redOrbit.com

jetWe all want cheaper airfare, but the high cost of jet fuel is a major driver of today’s ticket prices.

However, a new report from researchers at Washington State University indicates that cheaper jet fuel could be on the way thanks to a common black fungus found in rotting fruit called Aspergillus carbonarius.

By providing a special diet, the study team was able to get the fungus to produce hydrocarbons similar to those in jet fuel.

“It’s very promising,” said study author Birgitte Ahring, a bioproducts expert at WSU, in a press release.”I think that the fungus-based fuels are something that is going to happen. It’s a tremendous opportunity.” Read more

How slime mold can design transportation networks and maybe even transform computing

By Biz Carson, http://gigaom.com

slime-mold-board-1

The yellow blobs of slime mold normally grow in dark forests, not on computer chips or on gelatinous squares shaped like the United States. But through his research, University of the West of England professor Andrew Adamatzky has shown that the mold can, and should, be grown elsewhere because of its potential in computing.

Physarum polycephalum is a brainless mold that’s sole purpose is to build transportation networks for the nutrients that sustain it. As it expands in search of food, it sends out slimy tubes that continue to branch out until it finds a food source, at which point it forms a blob around the nutrients. Its slime tubes then continue to grow and split until the mold forms a network of tubes to transport the food throughout itself.

The key to Physarum polycephalum’s computing power, however, is its ability to form the most efficient and optimal network.

Because it’s a self-repairing, living creature, it can also model emergency situations. So if a road was cut off due to flooding or an accident, the mold could also be suddenly cut off at that point and its resources redirected in another optimal way.

“By understanding how living creatures build transport networks, an urban planner would probably modify their approaches towards urban development and road planning,” Adamatzky said.

And while we may not see a petri dish of slime mold on an urban planner’s desk anytime soon, there are more practical applications of the mold when it comes to computing. Adamatzky wrote a book in 2010 where he defined the concept of Physarum machines: programmable, amorphous, living computing devices. Because the mold is sensitive to light and certain chemicals, the mold can be programmed to travel certain ways while still finding the optimal network. Read More

An Unintended Effect of Energy-Efficient Buildings: Toxic Mold

By Sarah Zhang, http://gizmodo.com

Energy-efficient buildings can be wonderful at keeping out drafts and keeping down heating bills. But the same air-tightness, unfortunately, is also perfect for trapping humid air where toxic mold can go to party.

The Alberta Court of Appeal in Canada has been a mold-filled ghost building since 2001, after renovations to the handsome, 87-year-old sandstone building went awry. When the renovated and newly energy-efficient building reopened, according to ClimateWire, judges and attorneys complained of fatigue, irritated lungs, and watery eyes.

Air quality samples pointed the finger at mold growing inside the walls. The cracks and leaks of the pre-renovation building had been a crude form of air-quality control—albeit not very energy efficient. The new airtight building, however, trapped moisture to breed toxic mold. Read More

Bacterial breakthrough could lead to better biological batteries

An interesting study uses bacteria to create better batteries.

By Jennifer Welsh, http://www.businessinsider.com

New research into electricity-conducting bacteria could lead to environmentally friendly “bio-batteries” that could create energy, be used as factories for biological products, or clean out heavy metals from contaminated soils.

These bacteria live off iron and heavy metals, similar to how we live off of oxygen. They use it to make energy the way we use oxygen and food to make the energy that runs our bodies. Read More

 

Rogers County Courthouse mold is being eradicated

By RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
3/21/2008

CLAREMORE — County officials have hired a Catoosa company to begin mold remediation from an office in the Rogers County Courthouse, according to County Clerk Peggy Armstrong.
Worldwide Restoration Inc. this week began removing drywall and carpeting from the second-floor chambers of Associate District Judge Sheila Condren, said Arthur Mathews, the maintenance supervisor for the courthouse.Initial repairs are estimated at $6,000, Armstrong said.
The whole story at the Tulsa World

Mystery Mold Getting Kids Sick At Daytona Beach School

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Children are starting to get sick from a mysterious mold at a Daytona Beach elementary school. Toxicologists came out to Longstreet Elementary, but they still can’t figure out what’s causing the mold. It’s difficult to track down, too. The classrooms were just rebuilt this winter and a mold expert Friday explained that all it takes is some moisture like Thursday night’s rain to get in during the rebuilding and then one tiny spore in one tiny crack can lead to big problems. Tampa toxicologists and the county health department inspected the row of moldy classrooms Friday at Longstreet Elementary School. They found no obvious mold or environment for mold growth. “It is serious and it is a problem,” said parent Cheryl Martin. Air samples confirmed the mold was there last month and Martin’s experience with her daughter tells her it was a serious amount.”The doctor checked her again for her breathing and he can hear the wheezing inside. And he put her on a breathing machine,” she said….

Read the Full Story at WFTV.com

(Looks like one parent is wanting to file suit against the school district.  Could be messy!)

Iowa Court Decides for Consumers in Moldy Home Case

By Jane Akre
Monday, February 04, 2008 11:40 PM EST

Beverly and Robert Speight knew they had a problem when they could puncture the waterlogged siding on their $250,000 Iowa home with a fingertip. It is the unspeakable word to builders, insurers and home inspectors. “M” for mold or mildew—no one wants to cover it or take responsibility for it.

The owner of a moldy home may discover multiple exclusions in the contract with a home inspector or that their homeowners insurance has dropped or capped mold claims. Homeowners often run into a brick wall they have to remedy with their own bank account.

Just ask Erin Brockovich, of the film by the same name. She had to move out of her California home after mold, found growing in the floor and walls, caused her family’s health problems.

The CDC says there is no such thing as “toxic mold” but mold impacts those with asthma or a compromised immune system. The Institute of Medicine reports allergic and non allergic reactions in humans exposed to spores. All agree it should be removed.

Now the Iowa Supreme Court has issued a ruling that gives homeowners living in moldy conditions some hope. Home builders can be held responsible for poor workmanship that leads to mold and mildew from water seepage, long after the original buyer has moved out.

Full Story HERE