Blog Archives

Algae blooms create their own favorable conditions, new study finds

PUBLIC RELEASE: 8-JAN-2015 by DARTMOUTH COLLEGE

moldlake

Fertilizers are known to promote the growth of toxic cyanobacterial blooms in freshwater and oceans worldwide, but a new multi-institution study shows the aquatic microbes themselves can drive nitrogen and phosphorus cycling in a combined one-two punch in lakes.

The findings suggest cyanobacteria — sometimes known as pond scum or blue-green algae — that get a toe-hold in low-to-moderate nutrient lakes can set up positive feedback loops that amplify the effects of pollutants and climate change and make conditions even more favorable for blooms, which threaten water resources and public health worldwide. The findings shed new light on what makes cyanobacteria so successful and may lead to new methods of prevention and control. Read more

10 Reasons Why Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Mold Test Kits Are Not Accurate or Advised

moldkitPosted by Shane Hupp, http://tickerreport.com/

While it might be tempting to use DIY Mold Tests—petri dishes set out over a period of time to determine mold presence—to diagnose your household mold, these over-the-counter methods can be deceiving and inaccurate. The results lack enough credibility that lawyers, doctors, insurance companies, and remediation companies do not accept the results.

Consumer Reports, in fact, rated four different brands of DIY mold tests “Not Recommended,” citing the following: “In some samples, the vials with media leaked over entire kit. In one, an unopened kit was moldy. No expiration dates on the kit; old media could affect the accuracy and reliability of the results. Label claims that kit can identify toxic mold, but the report the lab sends can’t tell you this. One unused plate came back positive for mold growth, indicating contamination at some point; not very reassuring for post remediation use.”

All homes will contain when air samples are collected because mold is a common part of the environment. DIY kits, then, are essentially useless for diagnosing the complexity of your airborne mold contamination and should be handled by professionals. The EPA agrees: “Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by…professional organizations.”

While DIY tests can be used for entertainment value, much like a Chia Pet, true mold concerns should be handled by companies that understand the diagnostic process necessary to qualify and quantify potentially hazardous mold growth. Read more

High levels of toxic mold found in herbal medicines

By J Baulkman, UniversityHerald Reporter

herbal-supplementsBotanical medicines such as licorice, Indian rennet and opium poppy could contain dangerous levels of toxic mold.

A new study from researchers at the University of Peshawar in Pakistan found that the medicinal plant market goes untested for health hazards, putting herbal medicines at a higher risk of contamination with toxic mold.

An estimated 64 percent of people use medicinal plants to treat illnesses and relieve pain. The herbal medicine market is worth $60 billion globally, and growing fast. Despite the increasing popularity of herbal medicine, the sale of medicinal plants is mostly unregulated.

“It’s common to use medicinal plants in our country and to buy from local markets and shops,” Samina Ashiq, one of the authors of the study, said in a statement. “There’s a common misconception that just because they’re natural, the plants are safe. We knew from experience that this wasn’t the case, but we wanted to really test it and quantify the contamination.”

For the study, researchers analyzed 30 samples of plants known for their medicinal properties, including licorice, Indian rennet and opium poppy. They found that 90% percent of the samples were contaminated with mold, and the levels exceeded permissible limits in 70 percent of the samples.

They then grew the molds to find out if they produced toxins that could be harmful to human health. Nineteen percent of the molds produced aflatoxins, and 12 percent produced ochratoxin A. Overall, 31 percent of the molds growing on the plants they tested produced harmful toxins. Read more

Woman finds mold in Chandler apartment, alleges cover-up

By Rebecca Thomas, http://www.kpho.com/

moldyapartmentThis week’s record rainfall caused roofs to leak all across the Valley.

But for a Chandler woman, a leaky roof revealed an even bigger problem, one she said put her family’s health in danger.

“I woke up in the morning and my ceiling was gaping open,” Jessica Ford said.

She said water began gushing into her apartment during Monday’s storm.

Ford immediately called the management office at Laguna Village, near Arizona Avenue and Elliott Road and maintenance crews brought over an industrial fan to dry things out.

“They plugged it into this outlet while my wall was still damp,” Ford said about the counterproductive measure, since her ceiling was still leaking.

There was obvious water damage to her daughter’s room, with water pockets bulging from the ceiling.

Ford said a maintenance worker cut the ceiling open on Wednesday and what she saw shocked her.

“Mold, tons of black mold,” she said.

Again, Ford called management to report the problem and got a voicemail Thursday addressing the issue.

“That drywall has a colored backing on the back of it and that is what the discolored spots are,” said a woman who identified herself as Andrea and said she works with Laguna Village’s corporate office. “It’s actually not mold and there’s no mold that’s been seen.”

Not convinced, Ford took a sample of the sheet rock and gave it to a friend who is a biology professor.

He looked at it under a microscope and said he found very high concentrations of Stachybotrys Chartarum.

It’s a black mold known to cause respiratory problems, especially in people who have asthma, like Ford’s 6-year-old daughter. Read more

6 things to know about white mold

By Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University

sclerotia inside stemThis disease is caused by the fungus, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and it is favored by cool damp conditions.  Remember those morning fogs this summer and the fact that you hardly used your air conditioner?  Perfect conditions for infection.  This fungus forms hard black irregular shaped bodies called sclerotia. (photo of sclerotia inside stem)  They are actually a mass of hyphae and if you break them open they will be pink inside.  They can be mistaken for mice or rat droppings as well, the inside is a different color!  When the conditions are cool and the canopy is closed, this fungus produces a very small mushroom (photo).  This usually occurs during flowering and the spores then land on the dead flowers. This provides a perfect point of entry. This fungus produces oxalic acid – which degrades the tissue as it colonizes the plant.  The infections that you see now occurred 2 to 4 weeks ago.  Symptoms from the road will look like standing plants with a gray-green appearance.  Eventually these plants will lodge.  Once the leaves fall off – the plants will stand back up to some extent.

Read more

Are Contractors Taking Mold Seriously Enough?

By Matt Bishop, http://www.achrnews.com/

MoldHAVC

Mold is a serious threat, especially in areas such as the Deep South, where moisture and humidity pose a constant problem for HVAC contractors.

Even though mold remediation could potentially open a new revenue stream for HVAC contractors, some believe their peers don’t take mold nearly seriously enough.

In Louisiana, “toxic molds” are defined as those that produce compounds called mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are produced as a defense against other microorganisms. “Black toxic mold” can refer to a certain type of mold — Stachybotrys chartarum (also known as Stachybotrys atra). Black is a color, not a type of mold. Therefore, not all black molds are Stachybotrys chartarum.

“The majority of air conditioning contractors, at least the ones we see here, don’t have the necessary state mold remediation license; they don’t want it,” said Mike White, ASCS, CEO, Clean Air Systems of Louisiana, Shreveport, Louisiana. “They’re interested in selling boxes to people, and that’s it. I’ve gone in behind some of these guys who’ve installed a brand new air conditioning system, and we’ve found mold growing on the ceiling and blowing out of the duct work. [The customer] wants to know why they weren’t made aware of the mold.”

Jason Fricks, owner, Keystone Air Care Inc., Seneca, South Carolina, insists most HVAC contractors aren’t taking mold as seriously as they should. Because they are working around it so often, they are, to an extent, immune to its effects.

“It’s present in probably half the systems we see, and most kind of just ignore it because they don’t know how to deal with it, don’t know what it is, or are scared of the liability if they mention its existence,” Fricks said. Read more

Experts say deal with mold before health issues arise

By Marisa Lagos, http://www.sfgate.com

Health experts say any apparent mold growth or dampness needs to be taken care of swiftly or it could lead to asthma or other respiratory problems.

These health issues could be particularly acute for children and firefighters, who are already vulnerable, but should be of concern to healthy adults as well, said Dr. Mark Miller, director of UCSF’s Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit. Many families on Treasure Island are already worried that polluted soil is causing health problems, including respiratory issues, in their children.

“From a practical standpoint, if there is mold in a house, it needs to be remediated – and if you can see it or you can smell it, it’s there,” Miller said. “It’s always the result of moisture of some sort, and the first thing you have to do is do something about the moisture … certainly people with underlying respiratory disease and asthma are more prone to have effects, and we are always particularly concerned about the very old and very young. And firefighters already have respiratory-related problems. You don’t want to pile more things on.”

Mark Mendel, an epidemiologist with the California Department of Public Health, said wiping off mold or painting over it is an insufficient approach and that state law requires landlords to fix dampness in homes. He said expensive tests aren’t actually necessary, because if you can smell or see mold at all, it’s a problem.

“Painting over it is absolutely not acceptable and not effective … you need to find out where the water is coming from and fix it,” he said. “You need to dry damp materials, and some you have to get rid of – if you have carpet or ceiling tile that’s been wet more than a couple days, you really need to get rid of it. In addition to drying or removing any damp material, you need to remove any mold.”

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Hidden mold in dream home points to larger industry concern

By Gitte Laasby,  Journal Sentinel http://www.jsonline.com

The beautiful two-story stone-faced Sheboygan County home with the impressive Lake Michigan view was supposed to be a retreat for Mequon resident John Liebl and his wife, Beth, once they retire.

Instead, the couple are now seeing well over $250,000 of their retirement savings vanish to remedy and replace rotten exterior walls. The Liebls’ contractors say it’s a warning tale to every home buyer about the damage that can result when cheap building materials are combined with questionable workmanship.

“This was to be our weekend retreat. It’s turned into a nightmare,” John Liebl said. “What the guys are telling me is, had we not discovered this, in three to four years it would have been a complete tear-down. I don’t think we have any recourse.”

Bruce Nordgren, partner in Mequon-based Northgreen Builders LLC, which is now rebuilding the Oostburg-area home, calls the Liebls’ experience “a prime example of what’s going on in our industry.”

He predicts many more mold cases will come to light in the coming years.

“I’ve been building for 37 years now. I’m horrified by what we’re doing as a construction industry,” Nordgren said. “We’ve got to start looking at some of the things we’re doing….

“In the last five years, we’ve repaired so much stuff. It’s the products that we’re using. It’s the techniques, it’s all kinds of things. If it doesn’t change, (this) is going to happen.”

A home inspection before the Liebls purchased the house, built in 2004, in September of 2010 uncovered only minor defects. Those were remedied and the couple moved into the home, which was fully decorated and painted. Beth noticed a musty smell, but nothing showed.

It wasn’t until September 2012 when the Liebls hired Northgreen Builders to enclose the courtyard of their U-shaped house that signs of trouble appeared.  Read More

Mold in food: Here is what you need to know

Chobani Greek Yogurt

Chobani Greek Yogurt (Photo credit: Janellie)

 

By Cathy Payne, USA TODAY

 

You may want to give some items in your fridge the cold shoulder.

 

The recent recall of Chobani Greek yogurt brought new attention to the issue of mold that develops in food, when it’s harmful and what to do about it. On Sept. 5, the company that makes Chobani yogurt voluntarily recalled containers with the code 16-012 and best-by dates of Sept. 11 to Oct. 7.

 

The Food and Drug Administration received a total of 170 complaints associated with Chobani yogurt as of Sept. 13. The various issues reported continue to be cramps, nausea, headache and diarrhea. The complaints were submitted by individuals in Arizona, Delaware, New York, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Indiana and Florida.

 

“These reports about a product only reflect information as reported and do not represent any conclusion by the FDA about whether the product actually caused the adverse events,” says Tamara Ward, a spokeswoman for the agency.

 

Read More

 

 

Upton library gears up to fight mold

By Mike Gleason, http://www.milforddailynews.com

The Upton Town Library is plagued with mold, and officials hope that fixes planned over the next few months will solve the problem.

Library officials were alerted to the problem by bad odors.

“Historically, there has been a problem like this with the library,” Library Trustee Chairman John Robertson Jr. said. “We did feel we eliminated the problems and apparently, over time, we had. It was recently noticed, though, that an odor had returned to the library.”

In May, the library hired Gordon Mycology Laboratory in Littleton to inspect the building. The laboratory’s report, issued in July, detailed what it called “unacceptable” or “abnormal” levels of mold on building materials in the first-floor children’s section and unfinished basement, as well as evidence of rodents nesting in the walls.

“The first floor is not currently providing a healthy environment, particularly for mold-sensitized individuals or those with respiratory conditions or immune system deficiencies,” the report reads. “Ideally, although likely not possible, the library should not be occupied until the mold and moisture problems have been fully resolved.”

The report further recommends that people avoid the basement until the problem is fixed. It does note, however, that air samples from the first floor showed low mold levels consistent with indoor environments. Read More