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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

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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Mold goes to the dogs

Beagle’s nose for mold carves niche for local businessman

By:  Randy Metcalf

In this high technological age, the best mold detection may have four legs and floppy ears.

John Setford, owner and operator of Arizona Mold Dog Detection Services of Tucson, goes everywhere with his canine companion, Rocky the beagle.

“I am a typical mold inspector,” Setford said. “I’m certified just like any of the other inspectors in town.”

But there’s a difference. Human sight and smell are about 30 percent accurate in detecting mold. Setford said Rocky is about 90 percent accurate….

The rest of this fascinating report can be found at the website of the Explorer: News, Sports and Entertainment for Oro Valley, Marana and Northwest Tucson