Blog Archives

How did housing inspectors repeatedly miss mold that disabled tenants say existed for years?

By Barnett Wright, http://www.al.com/

MoldceilingFor years, federal, state and local housing officials conducted inspections at a housing development for disabled and elderly residents in Tarrant. Repeatedly their reports made no mention of mold – even though one former resident says he had experienced problems with mold there since 2005.

But now – after media reports of dissension between two housing boards responsible for safety issues at the development — mold has been found in more than two dozen units in the Spring Gardens apartments.

A series of inspections – some annually — had turned up no traces of mold. Read more

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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

Peoria family building non-toxic, mold-free house

By Steve Tarter, http://www.pjstar.com/

MoldfreehomeThe Brooks family has been on a toxic adventure that few would want to endure after a prior home that had hidden mold affected all three of them. Wes, 18, has a hypersensitivity to mold that led to significant health problems. His mom, Donna, said, “It was very serious, he’s our miracle.” Together, they look forward to moving into their new northwest Peoria home that has been built to minimize exposure to harsh fumes and toxic elements given off by common construction materials. Dave Brooks, said they just hope their ordeal can help other families when they are faced with a similar situation.

Brooks, who serves as the general manager of the WCIC-FM radio station in Peoria, ticked off some of the special measures taken with the family’s new home.

“I personally inspected all the lumber used on the project to make sure it was free of mold. We kept all the stacked lumber on site covered while using low-moisture concrete with no fly ash,” he said. “We’re wrapping the whole house with a one-inch layer of foam to reduce condensation potential inside the wall assembly. The whole system is aggressively designed to keep water out of the basement,” said Brooks. Read more

Teachers, Students Say Jordan Elementary Mold Made Them Ill

By Liz Collin, http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/

jordan elementaryHospitalized children, and their parents, say it’s because of what they’re breathing at school.

Halle Wassenberg, 7, spent months seeing different doctors.

“It made me feel yucky,” she told WCCO. “It didn’t feel good at all.”

She’s one of three students in the same classroom to leave Jordan Elementary School this year. Two teachers have also left. They all blame mold for making them sick. The school maintains the building is safe.

But a WCCO Investigation found mold concerns months ago were kept from parents. Read more

Moldy Homes May Mean More Asthma in Young Kids

By Tara Haelle, HealthDay Reporter

MoldceilingChildren appear more likely to develop asthma if their living rooms, kitchens or bedrooms have mold or moisture damage, according to a new study.

Children were most susceptible to developing asthma with mold exposure during their first two years of life, or if they already had allergies. However, mold did not increase children’s risk of developing allergies in the first place.

“The most significant finding was that moisture damage with or without mold in the rooms where children are expected to spend most of their time is associated with increased asthma risk, and it appears to be permanent,” said lead researcher Anne Karvonen, a senior researcher in Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare.

In other words, children’s asthma continued through age 6, and visible mold in children’s bedrooms or living rooms presented the highest risk, she said. Read more

Asthmatics alerted over spores threat

By Sarah Cosgrove, http://www.hortweek.com/

aspergillus-flavus_tnA professional gardener whose lung filed with pus after inhaling a deadly fungus that lurks in bark and mulch has warned others that they should be careful.

People with asthma or a weak immune system are advised to wear masks when moving rotting leaf, plant and tree mulch because of the microscopic dust that this dislodges, which can contain Aspergillus fungal spores.

The National Aspergillosis Centre, University Hospital of South Manchester, sees about 350 new patients a year with conditions coming from inhaling the spores. Professor of infectious diseases in global health David Denning said numbers are growing, especially among people who take steroids – arthritis sufferers, for example – which suppress their immune systems.

“Most of us are either immune to the fungus or have a sufficiently healthy system to fight the infection,” he added. “But in asthma sufferers it can produce coughing and wheeziness, and in people with weak or damaged immune systems the fungus can cause pulmonary aspergillosis – a condition that can cause irreparable and sometime fatal damage to the lungs and sinuses.”

One previously “very fit” professional gardener who had asthma only as a child and went to the gym three times a week became very ill with pulmonary aspergillosis and said she was lucky to have survived. Read more

An Artist Who Paints Portraits With Mold

By Margaret Rhodes, http://www.wired.com

MoldphotoFilm is an exceedingly delicate material. It’s highly flammable, can’t always go through TSA checkpoints, and, as it turns out, can be easily destroyed by fungus.

A few years ago South Korean artist Seung-Hwan Oh read a BBC article about this fungus problem affecting film archives. He realized they were right: “I noticed that mold on badly stored film can eat away and destroy its contents,” he says. “And then I realized that I may deliver the idea of impermanence of matter applying this natural disaster into my work.”

It’s a heady notion, but when Oh talks about ‘impermanence’ he’s talking about the “idea that all the matter, including all the life forms, collapse in the spatial-temporal dimension we belong to.” It’s his inspiration in this series, and it’s based on the second law of thermodynamics, which states that as usable energy in the universe gets used—to power life, and grow organisms—unusable energy increases and creates a state of growing randomness and chaos.

Put differently, Oh started letting mold grow on his film. Rather than worrying about fungus, he embraced it.

To do that Oh had to set up a micro-fungus farm in his studio. Film gets stashed away in a warm, wet environment where fungus can grow. Oh will sometimes take mold that grows naturally on bread and rice and paste it into the prints, but that’s about as much control as he can exercise over the outcome. 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

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