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

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

Is toxic mold the real hidden culprit in haunted houses?

By David Sommerstein, http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/

moldghostsA team of researchers at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., are the North Country’s answer to the “Ghost Hunters.”

They have a hunch that the reason some people see ghosts is not necessarily because a place is haunted. It may be because a haunted house has a lot of mold, and breathing it alters people’s states of mind.

Shane Rogers, an associate professor of environmental engineering at Clarkson, is into paranormal activity and ghosts in general. As a scientist, he studies some icky things, like manure and mold. He put his interest together and developed a hypothesis. Maybe people who see ghosts are actually just breathing in toxic mold? “There are reports of people who have been exposed to mold who have reported things like anxiety and depression.”

Rogers also knows many alleged haunted houses are old and dilapidated and more likely to be infested with mold. He said, “If you’re in a place where you’re exposed to mold, and you’re feeling a little anxious, and you see something strange or you feel something strange, if you’re in an old house that’s a little scarier, you might be more likely to ascribe it to a haunting, whereas in a newer house, perhaps not.” 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

Personal coffee makers potential mold hazards

By Whitney Gryna, http://www.purdueexponent.org/

noKeurig1Personal coffeemakers provide a convenient coffee brewing solution for students, but they have an issue everyone should be wary of.

Mold within personal coffee makers like Keurigs should not come as a surprise.

“Any time there is constant moisture, there is the potential for mold and mildew to generate,” said Terri Newcom, Purdue Extension director for Tipton County.

Keurigs are a simple brewing system, requiring little of the user. Users only add water to the water tank and place the blend cup of choice into the machine. Keurigs are a cost efficient and easy way to brew at home for many. What many Keurig users have not thought of are the possible drawbacks to this machine.

“Since mildew and mold can grow on hard plastic surfaces, Keurigs and other types of coffee makers are susceptible,” said Newcom. “Most likely, the first evidence of mold or mildew will be a bitter taste to the coffee.”

A bitter taste to the coffee is not the only side effect that comes with mold exposure. Because all molds, mildews and bacteria pose health hazards, allergies tend to be a negative result as well. Other health hazards can include coughing, congestion, and respiratory infections. Read more

Mold in vacant homes poses health threat

By  Kirsti Marohn, kmarohn@stcloudtimes.com

MoldceilingFrom the outside, it looks like a typical two-story split-entry on a corner lot, not much different than the other houses in this newer suburban development.

The first indication that something is amiss is the sign posted in the yard announcing that the house is in tax forfeiture. Step inside the front door, and the reason for the home’s emptiness becomes startlingly clear.

Black mold covers the walls in angry splotches from ceiling to floor. It coats woodwork, sinks, appliances and doors. In the basement, it has decimated the ceiling, leaving a gaping hole.

Chad Martini, land management director for Stearns County, says it’s the worst case of mold he’s ever seen.

The county had planned to demolish the house at 424-13th Ave. N in Wildwood Estates after it went into tax forfeiture last fall. But several contractors have called the county with interest in buying, rehabilitating and reselling it.

So the county will try to sell it at a public auction this spring for a minimum bid of $10,000, a fraction of its original value. In 2009, the county estimated the house’s market value at more than $235,000.

The county’s goal is to get the property back on the tax rolls, Martini said.

“I think what we’re hoping to see is a contractor that will come in, buy the house, rehab it and make it a good neighbor in the neighborhood,” he said.

Across the nation, mold has been a problem in houses left empty after the housing market crisis. In some states, it’s estimated that as many as half of all foreclosed homes have mold and mildew issues.

Some mold contains toxins, so if it’s not removed and remediated, mold can cause serious health issues. That’s especially true for people with asthma, allergies or other respiratory problems. Read more

Purina Sued for Allegedly Killing Thousands of Dogs With ‘Toxic’ Food

By James Joiner, http://www.thedailybeast.com/

BenefuldogfoodA class action lawsuit alleges a mold byproduct used in kibble is leading pets to agonizing deaths.
Despite years of online allegations that one of the most popular dog food brandshas been poisoning pets, it wasn’t until just weeks ago that the cat was let out of the bag in a court filing. A class action lawsuit was filed that blames the deaths of thousands of dogs on one of Purina’s most popular brands of chow.

Googling Nestle Purina Petcare’s Beneful brand will get you the pet food manufacturer’s website, a Facebook page with over a million likes, and, in stark contrast, a Consumer Affairs page with 708 one-star ratings supported with page after grim page detailing dogs suffering slow, agonizing deaths from mysterious causes.

Internal bleeding. Diarrhea. Seizures. Liver malfunction. It reads like something from a horror movie or a plague documentary, but a suit brought in California federal court by plaintiff Frank Lucido alleges that this is all too real—and too frequent to be a coincidence. 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

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

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