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Mold produces certain odors and VOCs that may affect health and well-being.

Mold produces certain odors and VOCs that may affect health and well-being.

As a specialist in mold toxins, Joan Bennett didn’t believe in sick building syndrome.

Then Hurricane Katrina struck, Bennett’s home was flooded, and she evacuated.

A month later, she returned to the house to sample her home for mold. Her house smelled horrendous and even with protective gear, she felt awful – dizziness, headache, malaise. She walked outside and felt better.

Then it struck her: “I think there’s something in this terrible mold I’m smelling.

But she still believed in her old arguments against the theory. She knew how much mold toxin we ordinarily get exposed to from mold in food, and she still knew that it was far greater than any we could breathe from spores in the air.

But the smell of mold was another matter. Most things we can smell are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and some VOCs are known to make people sick.

“I knew that a minor theory was that sick building syndrome might be caused by the VOCs that make fungi smell moldy,” Bennett says.

And then she thought, “Ta da! Maybe there is such a thing as sick building syndrome, and maybe it has nothing to do with the fungus toxins I’ve been studying all my life!”

That moment transformed her research career.

The Sniff Test

She focused on a VOC called “mushroom alcohol” that is the primary component of the typical smell of mold. It’s formed especially when molds eat linoleic acid, which occurs both in many biological cells and in building products like oil-based paint.

When fruit flies breathed in the mushroom alcohol, she found that they started moving strangely. They trembled, moved slowly, fell over, lacked coordination. They looked like insectile Parkinson’s patients.

Bennett knew that Parkinson’s could be caused by exposure to chemicals like pesticides. So could mushroom alcohol be doing the same thing? Could these fruit flies in fact have their own version of Parkinson’s?

To find out, Bennett and her collaborators gave the stricken flies L-dopa, a medication that reverses the effects of Parkinson’s in humans. And indeed, the flies moved more naturally, indicating that the mushroom alcohol was operating on a similar pathway.

It’s a long way from a fruit fly to a human, so Bennett and her team tested human cell lines as well. A human cell in a test tube can’t tremor with Parkinson’s disease, of course, but Bennett found that the mushroom alcohol was toxic to the cells, killing some of them off. She published her findings recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Thus, Bennett says, VOCs from mold may be an important contributor to Parkinson’s disease. It would explain a long-standing mystery:

Every known toxin that causes Parkinson’s is man-made and relatively recent, but Parkinson’s has existed for thousands of years. Bennett says that a variety of natural neurotoxins – mushroom alcohol as well as other VOCs – may lead to the disease.

Elliott Horner, an indoor air quality researcher at Atlanta-based company UL, says that he wasn’t surprised that a fungal VOC affects the physiological functioning of animals.

Moldy buildings, he says, have long been suspected to make people sick through VOCs as well as through mycotoxins, small particulates, and allergens. But he says that it’s a “huge step forward” to have an animal model that will allow researchers to study the impacts of these VOCs.

Source: Discover Magazine
This article has been edited for length.

 Remove VOCs, mold and other contaminants from the ambient air with Electrocorp’s industrial-strength air cleaners containing activated carbon and HEPA air filters. For more information and a free consultation, contact Electrocorp today.




Classrooms may be making your kids sick
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Over the past several years, countless studies have been made on dampness and moisture in buildings throughout Finland. In 2007, researchers chose 630 random houses and apartments that were built between 1950 and 1989 for their study. Of those homes, 51 percent had moisture problems; 33 percent of those had moderate to severe issues, particularly in houses.

Many respiratory diseases, eye irritations and allergies have been directly linked to the moisture problem across the country.

The National Public Health Institute revealed in 2007 that there was a strong correlation between damp homes and the prevalence of asthma among children. Up to one in five asthma cases could be linked to water damage in the home.

A new study, made by the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ,) has now discovered that moisture issues extend beyond the home. Up to two thirds of the schools and day-cares across the country have indoor air quality issues. Approximately 80 percent of the buildings in Finland, schools and day-cares included, are not sufficiently ventilated.

Water damage in some of the damp schools is so bad that recommendations have been made to tear them down, rather than try to repair them. Though poor indoor air quality in schools have been an issue for over fifteen years now, some people believe the issue is still not being handled properly. Remediation has been slow moving, leading to parents, in one town, taking matters into their own hands.

Tervajoki School in Vähäkyrö, Finland was shut down for a week while parents pulled their kids out of the school and promised to continue striking until changes were made. The school has since been relocated pending repairs or the building of a new school.

What do you think about the parents’ strike? Would you do the same if  you thought your kids were at risk? Let us know!

Source: Helsingin Sanomat, Helsingin Sanomat, University of Turku, Air & Waste Management Association

Improving indoor air quality in schools

Apart from the home, kids spend most of their time at school. Considering the astronomical number of children with asthma today (7 million in US), it is extremely important that the quality of the air in schools is up to par.

Removing mold is the most important first step to solving indoor air pollution in schools. Many schools in North America have been shut down recently for precisely that reason. If a school is dealing with elevated moisture, however, ventilation is the first plan of action.

Electrocorp offers air cleaners that can complement remediation and ventilation efforts within schools and universities. Our units use two different types of filters to help remove harmful chemicals, gases and particles from the air: the HEPA filter (for particles) and the activated carbon filter (for chemicals and gases). An optional UV germicidal lamp will also help remove mold, bacteria and viruses, thereby resulting in better air quality for both students and staff.

For more information on our air cleaners, contact Electrocorp.

Libraries and archives can expose
people to poor indoor air quality.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

When you think about libraries and archives, do the words “bright”, “fresh” and “green” come to mind?

Probably not.

Many libraries and archives are large, dust-filled rooms stacked with books, papers and other materials.

They can be cluttered, dark and dingy – and many of them also have a problem with their indoor air quality.

In fact, IAQ is such a concern that some libraries and archives have implemented an indoor air quality policy.

In the case of the University of Florida library, the policy was introduced after people complained about health concerns, including eye and lung irritation, headaches, skin irritation, exposure to diseases and more.

Since there can be many different reasons for indoor air pollution (the most common are faulty HVAC systems, construction and renovation projects, forbidden smoking, the use of chemicals and mold), the policy addresses various issues and the best ways to handle them.

How to handle IAQ problems in libraries

The IAQ policy stresses the importance of communication, which will allow all sides to take action towards better air.

First, the people who are affected by poor indoor air quality or who notice it should be reporting it promptly.

Most universities have an environmental health and safety department, and there should also be a contact in the library itself.

Second, all staff members have to be informed in a timely manner of planned renovation or construction projects and the possible risks associated with them. Everyone should work together to minimize those risks and find safer alternatives.

Third, the library and archive facilities should be inspected regularly, and any types of problems need to be addressed.

What do you think of the indoor air quality at your library? Let us know what your area is doing right and how it can improve.

Source: George A. Smathers Libraries

Remove indoor air pollutants in libraries

I-6500 series combines
particle and chemical filtration.

The right types of air cleaners can help remove indoor air pollutants such as chemicals, particles, odors, dust, mold spores, bacteria, viruses and fumes.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners for libraries and archives feature the most comprehensive filtration system to deal with the pollutants listed above.

The units feature a deep-bed activated carbon system for gases, chemicals, odors, fumes, even tobacco smoke and mold mycotoxins, a HEPA filter for fine particles, dust, allergens and pollen and optional UV germicidal filtration to neutralize biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and mold.

As an industry leading supplier of industrial and commercial air cleaners, Electrocorp works with university administrations, government buyers, environmental consultants and many other contacts to make sure that IAQ problems are addressed correctly.

For more information, please contact Electrocorp at 1-866-667-0297.

Offices can expose workers to dust, mold and chemicals.

Many people don’t mind being indoors in their air conditioned offices during the hot summer months, but office buildings have to be well maintained in order to avoid indoor air quality problems.

Spending day after day in offices with poor indoor air quality can lead to reduced productivity and health effects such as chronic coughs and sneezing, scratchy throats, itchy eyes, headaches and aggravated respiratory conditions like asthma.

When it comes to indoor air pollution, a lot of people tend to blame mold for health issues, occupational hygienists say.

However, mold may not be the cause of the IAQ concerns – in many cases the culprits are airborne chemicals and dust.

Health effects of dust exposure

Dust, which contains fine particles of fibers, skin scales, insect parts, pollen, cobwebs, dirt, dander and more, settles on surfaces everywhere in the office.

Regular cleaning can help control this aspect of indoor air quality, although companies should insist on non-toxic cleaning agents to avoid the spread of irritating chemicals throughout the office.

Unfortunately, experts note that even with regular cleaning, dust may settle in areas that are inaccessible, including the building’s air ducts.

Once dust gets in the air ducts, it can stay there for years, or it might be circulated throughout the office where it can affect employees’ health and well-being.

Since people spend so much time in offices and there could be a lot of dust, yearly air duct cleanings are recommended, as long as they are done by professionals with the right equipment.

Source: Digital Journal press release

Removing pollutants from the office air

The PrintSafe features a custom source capture hood that removes pollutants from the printer exhaust.

Dust, allergens, fine particles, chemicals, VOCs, odors, gases and biological contaminants can be removed easily and efficiently with Electrocorp’s air cleaners for offices and air cleaners for office printers.

As an industry leader in air cleaners for commercial and industrial applications, Electrocorp offers some of the largest adsorbent surface areas, the most customizable options and features and the most relevant filtration media at the best price. The air cleaners contain a multistage filtration system with activated carbon, HEPA and optional UV germicidal filtration.

The company’s portable and HVAC-compatible air cleaners can help keep the office air clean and healthy.

Contact Electrocorp to talk to an IAQ expert about your concerns and space.

Is the air in your office making you sick? We’d like to hear from you.

Show your support for green and healthy working environments by becoming a follower of this blog.

Mold in the drug company can lead to shortages, experts say.

Sanofi Pasteur’s Toronto plant is suspending production of ImmuCyst, a bladder cancer drug, until further notice.  This news comes one month after the company recalled its tuberculosis vaccine, BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin).

The vaccine and drug-making giant’s Toronto facility experienced a setback when its manufacturing plant was flooded last October. Sanofi Pasteur has since struggled to maintain Canadian health and safety standards there.

Last week’s announcement comes on the heels of an inspection by Health Canada. The government agency discovered mold on the premises, leading to concerns about the safety of the drug.

ImmuCyst is one of the leading drugs used for bladder cancer treatment and is made with the BCG bacteria.

There is concern that this latest blow will have a negative impact on the world’s supply.

Source: CBC

Mold: not a small matter

Mold is present all around us. Whether it is as innocuous as fruit going bad in your refrigerator, or as potentially dangerous as the permeating smell of mold coating your bathroom ceiling, mold can have varying effects on people and materials.

Within a context where chemicals need to be produced and stored in a sterile environment, such as in chemical plants or hospitals, the presence of mold can have devastating effects, not only on the products, but also on the workers’ health and well-being.

It is important to keep indoor air quality safe for all people working in their respective industries.

Indoor pollution in the form of mold (as well as chemicals, particles and other contaminants) can have many negative consequences.

Adverse affects to prolonged or acute contact with mold can range from sneezing, coughing and skin irritations to liver cancer, lung cancer and damage to your nervous system.

Air cleaner solutions for mold in the workplace

To purify the air in the best possible manner, Electrocorp has developed a series of air cleaners that are specifically designed to mitigate mold and asbestos.

These machines effectively ‘scrub’ the air of toxins, resulting in a safe and healthy work environment.

The robust AirRhino series is best used in larger rooms and has the option for a 12-inch deep, 100-pound carbon filter which is geared toward ridding the air of chemical toxins.

These units can also be used for particle removal and have a 12-inch deep medical-grade HEPA filter, a one-inch prodense filter and a one-inch dust filter.

Do you have any questions, comments or concerns about mold? Let us know by posting a message. We’ll be happy to respond.

Show your support for a greener working environment by becoming a follower of this blog.

For more information on Electrocorp’s air cleaners, please visit our website.

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