In 2000, a new “toxic mold” panic swept the country, and after 16 years of untold lawsuits and billions of dollars spent, major myths still plague and unnecessarily panic association boards, managers and homeowners. The myths all too often cause exaggerated repairs, unduly frightened residents, and conflict. In this and the next column, I will address thirteen pervasive toxic mold myths.
1. Mold is new. Mold, one of the earliest and simplest life forms, has existed for thousands of years. Almost 100 years ago, mold was the basis of the discovery of penicillin. Mold is ever-present, as is dust or pollen.
2. The scientific and medical communities confirm mold’s many dangers. In 2004, the National Institute of Medicine published its comprehensive study on indoor mold exposure, called “Damp Indoor Spaces and Health.” A central finding was: “Scientific evidence links mold … in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms in some people with the chronic disorder, as well as to coughing, wheezing, and upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people… However, the available evidence does not support an association between … mold and the wide range of other health complaints that have been ascribed.”
3. One must determine the kind of mold present. Mold consultants and plaintiff attorneys often describe some molds as worse than others. The most famous mold is stachybotrys chartarum, a mold producing infinitesimal quantities of a substance similar to botulism poison. However, the amount is so small they call it a “mycotoxin.” It sounds frightening, but the scientific community long ago debunked the myth that this or any mold was somehow poisonous to breathe. For example, read the National Institute of Health Fact Sheet on Mold, found at www.niehs.nih.gov.
4. California is protected by the Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001. The act instructed the Department of Public Health to develop permissible exposure limits of the various mold strains. However, in 2005, and again in 2008, the DPH reported the task could not be completed with the scientific information available. Consequently, there is presently no official standard as to how many mold spores of any given variety are “unhealthy.”
5. Always start with a mold test. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends against mold testing. There is no standard as to how many mold spores are “unhealthy,” and indoor air sampling tests are extremely vulnerable to events in the home, which can change the results. A recent shower, window opening or carpet cleaning are some of the many factors that can completely change test outcomes.
Mold tests, to put it bluntly, primarily frighten the occupants and create a “need” for the expense of a mold consultant, and a second test after the area is cleaned. Since the health authorities have not confirmed any particular strain is more dangerous, and since there is no official standard as to how many airborne spores are unhealthy, there is rarely a good reason to spend the money on such a test.
Scrub Walls, Baseboards and Outlets
Tom DiPace/AP Images
Clean Faucets and Showerheads
Clean Out the Dryer Vent
Sarah Wilson / Getty Images
Wash Exterior Windows
Keep Allergens Away
Photos: Christopher Shane/Styling: Elizabeth Demos
Check Foundation Vents
Clean the Grill
Prep Your Garden
Test Smoke Alarms
Clean Outdoor Furniture
A new survey has found office workers who don’t clean up their workspace put everyone’s health at risk, according to an article on the TechTimes website.
Printerland, a reseller of printers in the UK, surveyed more than 1,000 office workers and found two-thirds of them didn’t clean up their workspace regularly. One in 10 workers said they cleaned their desk once a month, while another 9 percent said they never cleaned their space.
By not cleaning, office workers in messy environments are at risk from harmful bacteria, including Helicobacter pylori, Staphylococcus aureus, E-coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The messy office showed that bugs are present on office chairs (21,000 germs per square inch) and desks, desktops (20,961 germs per square inch), keyboards (3,295 germs per square inch), computer mice (1,676 germs per square inch), and office phones (25,127 germs per square inch), according to the article.
Plus, at least 90 percent of office mugs contain harmful germs on their surface, which 20 percent of them carry fecal bacteria. Charles Gerba, a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona, recommended employees take their coffee mugs and dishes home every night to clean.
Proper cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched objects and areas reduces the spread of viruses by 80 to 90 percent. Gerba suggests cleaning office items, such as phones and desks with antibacterial spray at least once a week. In addition, office chairs should be vacuumed.
To reduce cross-contamination, cleaning personnel should make sure restroom are stocked with soap and towels. However, since restrooms may be taxed, hand sanitizer should also be made available. Setting up hand sanitizer stations in common areas, such as lobbies and breakrooms, as well as frequently used collaborative spaces, will encourage use, especially by occupants who feel they are too busy to visit the restrooms to wash hands when needed.
LENOX HILL, NY — After testing every cooling tower in the Lenox Hill neighborhood following a June outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, the city Department of Health found that more than 40 towers tested positive for trace amounts of Legionella bacteria, a department spokesman told Patch.
The city tested the neighborhood’s 116 cooling towers and found that 42 towers had trace amounts of the bacteria, the Department of Health spokesman said. Of those 42 towers that tested positive, 24 had levels that could cause the disease to spread to humans, according to the spokesman The city has ordered buildings to fully clean and disinfect the towers that tested positive, but has not identified where the towers that tested positive are located.”During the field investigation, disease detectives closely monitored laboratory reports for any additional cases while water ecologists sampled every cooling tower in the cluster area,” the spokesman said in a statement sent to Patch.
“Approximately 100 Health Department personnel were involved in the response as they sought to prevent additional cases and raise awareness. The Health Department has the most sophisticated disease monitoring system of any municipal health department in nation – every day, disease detectives monitor hospital emergency departments and laboratory reports for over 75 reportable diseases, and water ecologists quickly respond to environmental hazards related to Legionnaires’ and other diseases to keep New Yorkers safe.”The tests were conducted after the city identified a Legionnaires’ disease cluster in the Lenox Hill neighborhood in June. During the outbreak seven people were hospitalized after contracting the disease. Of those seven people, one person who was elderly and had “significant underlying health conditions” died, the Department of Health said in June.After the June 16 outbreak one more person who worked in the area became sick with Legionnaires’ disease and was hospitalized, but has recovered, a Department of Health spokesman said.The city has closed its investigation into the Legionnaires’ cluster even though it was unable to discover the source of the outbreak. The Department of Health is rarely able to match a patient’s DNA with the source of an outbreak such as a cooling tower, a department spokesman told Patch.Legionnaires’ symptoms include fever, cough, chills, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea and generally surface two to 10 days after contact with the bacteria Legionella. Common culprits in the spread of the Legionella bacteria include cooling towers, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, humidifiers, hot water tanks, and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems, the Department of Health said.The disease cannot be spread from one person to another, the Department of Health said in a statement.
Article Source: https://patch-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/patch.com/new-york/upper-east-side-nyc/amp/27169956/42-lenox-hill-cooling-towers-tested-positive-for-legionella-bacteria-city-says
(KMSP) – Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they found the legionella bacteria in most regions of the country.
The bacteria was mostly unknown before a 1976 outbreak that claimed 29 lives, and now, the legionella bacteria can be found almost anywhere.
A new CDC report tested 196 cooling towers across the country, revealing that 84 percent tested positive for legionella DNA.
“That statistic is not surprising,” said Richard Danila, MDH Deputy State Epidemiologist. “Legionella bacteria are ubiquitous in the environment. You can find them in streams and rivers and in man-made systems like water towers.”
It’s contaminated water cooling towers that health officials blame for the Hopkins outbreak that sickened more than two dozen.
Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by inhaling water that contains the legionella bacteria, which causes symptoms such as coughing, headache and fatigue.
“Really what needs to happen is you need to have stagnant water, warm water and usually a bio film – slime of some sort that allows growth of that legionella,” Danila said.
Nationwide, Legionnaires’ cases have risen by a staggering 286 percent since the year 2000.
Article Source: http://www.fox9.com/news/252563733-story