Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Chlorine in Our Drinking Water

Back in May 2007 I posted information about the hazards of chlorine in our drinking and swimming water. I would like to revisit this topic with the following article. Although the other posts realte more to health issues related to chlorine, this post is about an answer to our aging water system.

In a time when we endlessly scrutinize the ingredients of our food and insist on pesticide-free peaches, why are we still mixing carcinogens into our children’s lemonade?

From herbicides to arsenic, the Environmental Protection Agency has set standards for 80 different chemicals, specifying how much of each should be allowed in our drinking water. Yet no regulations exist for thousands of other contaminants that make their way into our drinking water.

These unregulated contaminants include industrial byproducts, agricultural chemicals, drugs and even most of the toxic compounds that are formed when we add chlorine for disinfection. The combined effect of these contaminants has never been evaluated.

There is nothing we ingest in greater quantities than water. In light of this, here’s a radical concept. Our drinking water should be water. Nothing more. Paradoxically, the best way to make that happen is to purify less of it. Here’s why.
The technology exists to remove all of these chemicals from our water. But the E.P.A. balks at insisting on the elimination of all hazardous chemicals and microbes from the 10 trillion gallons of water we use every year because the cost would be so great.

Merely maintaining our water systems will cost $274 billion over the next 20 years, according to the E.P.A. Upgrading our water supply to eliminate all public health risks from chemicals and microbes in our drinking water would be far more expensive.

But money is an obstacle to clean drinking water only because the E.P.A.’s assumptions rely on old ways of thinking. Our water infrastructure is old and decayed, and so are the fundamental ideas behind it.

Every drop of water produced by water treatment plants must meet E.P.A. standards for drinking-water quality. But we drink less than 1 percent of that water. Most of it goes down toilets, into washing machines, onto our lawns or down the drain.

The largest single consumer of water in most cities is not a consumer at all. Water pipes, often more than 100 years old, leak millions of gallons per day in every major city in the United States. Because of damage from Hurricane Katrina, the water pipes in New Orleans alone now leak 50 million gallons each day.

Right now, improving the quality of the water we drink requires extraordinary expense to improve the quality of the water we flush. This adds enormous costs to any effort to improve the quality of our drinking water and forces us to tolerate the presence of chemicals in our water that we would ban if they were food additives. It forces New Yorkers to drink unfiltered water even though 114 wastewater treatment plants dump treated sewage into the city’s water supply.

The underlying systems for our water supplies were laid out more than 100 years ago. Over the past century we have made incremental improvements to these systems, adjusting their design and operation as new threats to our health were identified. We now have terrific water for irrigating lawns and washing cars. Our drinking water, however, falls short.
To improve the quality of our drinking water, we need to rethink our entire approach to providing it. Our drinking water should have a different status from the water used to flush toilets.

Pure water will require filters in restaurants and workplaces and at the tap where children fill their glasses. Millions of homes already have these filters, but they are installed haphazardly. To avoid a two-tiered water supply in which safe water goes only to those who can afford it, these filters must become a universal, integral part of the water supply system.
Utilities should select, install and maintain point-of-use water filters. Design improvements can make the filters more effective. These changes are possible and affordable. Americans already spend more than $15 billion each year for bottled water.

The need to replace aging pipes and equipment over the next two decades offers an opportunity to reinvent the way we deliver our drinking water. We cannot allow the water we don’t drink to prevent us from purifying the water we do.

Robert D. Morris is the author of “The Blue Death: Disease, Disaster and the Water We Drink.”

Additionally

DO NOT USE UNFILTERED TAP WATER!

Do not drink tap water. Don't cook with tap water. Don't even bathe in tap water. Do not let your pets drink tap water. And, if you are growing vegetables in your garden, don't use tap water.

Boston Biosafety Cares

Microbes can survive for 100,000 years

Microbes can survive trapped inside ice crystals, under 3 kilometres of snow, for more than 100,000 years, a new study suggests.

The study bolsters the case that life may exist on distant, icy worlds in our own solar system. Living bacteria have been found in ice cores sampled at depths of 4 kilometres in Antarctica, though some scientists have argued that those microbes were contaminants from the drilling and testing of the samples in labs.

And in 2005, researchers revived a bacterium that sat dormant in a frozen pond in Alaska for 32,000 years.

Now, physicist Buford Price and graduate student Robert Rohde, both at University of California in Berkeley, US, have found a mechanism to explain how microbes could survive such extreme conditions. They say a tiny film of liquid water forms spontaneously around the microbe. Oxygen, hydrogen, methane and many other gases will then diffuse to this film from air bubbles nearby, providing the microbe with sufficient food to survive.

Thus, virtually any microbe can remain alive in solid ice, resisting temperatures down to -55° Celsius and pressures of 300 atmospheres.

Under such harsh conditions, the microbes would not be able to grow and reproduce, but they would still be able to repair any molecular damage, keeping themselves viable for more than a thousand centuries, the team says. "It is not life as we generally think about it," says Rohde. "[They] are just sitting there surviving, hoping that the ice will melt." To test their hypothesis, the researchers studied ice samples taken at various depths in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. They detected isolated microbes that they say must be trapped inside ice crystals.

Additionally

Just as microbes have been found to survive in a dormant state for thousands of years, mold also has been found in like states. Mold found in the Egyptian pyramids has been successfully cultured thousands of years after the tombs were sealed.

How does this apply to the average home owner? Well, sometimes when the weather is humid, people often complain of a musty smell in their homes. Once the humidity levels drop, the smell tends to go away or lessen. This is because mold needs water to flourish, so when it is humid, the mold thrives, when it is not humid, the mold can go into somewhat of a dormant state and the smell goes away.

So, unless you kill the mold, it will always be there just waiting for moisture (water) to spring back to life.


Thank you NewScientist.com for the article /Daniele Fanelli and Maggie McKee

Boston Biosafety cares about your health

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Mycotoxic Foods - Top 10 List

Definition of Mycotoxic - Pertaining to or emanating from a mycotoxin.

Definition of Mycotoxin - Mycotoxin (from the Greek word (mykes) "fungus")

Definition of Toxin - A toxin (from the Greek word (toxikon), lit. (poison) is a poisonous substance produced by living cells or organisms

Courtesy of David A. Holland, M.D. (Thanks David)

Mycotoxins cause a wide range of health problems in humans when we are exposed to small amounts over an extended period of time, and can even be lethal if taken in large quantities over a short period of time. Given the large number of diseases linked to mycotoxins (see Dr. Holland’s list at the end of the article) and our tendency to eat a large amount of grains in our typical American diet, this is a very concerning problem. Dr. Holland states, "Grains are sources of carbohydrates, or sugars, and as such, they risk contamination by certain fungi. These fungi produce secondary metabolites, or mycotoxins."

1. Alcoholic beverages
Alcohol is the mycotoxin of the Saccharomyces yeast--brewer’s yeast. Other mycotoxins besides alcohol can also be introduced into these beverages through the use of mold-contaminated grains and fruits. Producers often use grains that are too contaminated with fungi and mycotoxins to be used for table foods, so the risk is higher that you are consuming more than just alcohol in your beverage (Council for Agricultural Science and technology. Mycotoxins: Economic and Health Risks. Task Force Report Number 116. CAST. Ames, IA. Nov 1989). Before you drink for the health of your heart, consider the other possible risks of drinking. There are safer ways of consuming antioxidants.

2. Corn
Corn is "universally contaminated" with fumonisin and other fungal toxins such as aflatoxin, zearalenone and ochratoxin (Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. Mycotoxins: Risks in Plant, Animal and Human Systems. Task Force Report No. 139. Ames, IA. Jan 2003). Fumonisin and aflatoxin are known for their cancer-causing effects, while zearalenone and ochratoxin cause estrogenic and kidney-related problems, respectively. Just as corn is universally contaminated with mycotoxins, our food supply seems to be universally contaminated with corn--it’s everywhere! A typical chicken nugget at a fast food restaurant consists of a nugget of corn-fed chicken that is covered by a corn-based batter that is sweetened with corn syrup!

3. Wheat
Not only is wheat often contaminated with mycotoxins, but so are the products made from wheat, like breads, cereals, pasta, etc. Pasta may be the least-"offensive" form of grains since certain water-soluble mycotoxins, such as deoxynivalenol (vomitoxin), are partially removed and discarded when you toss out the boiling water that you cooked the pasta in. Unfortunately, traces of the more harmful, heat-stable and fat-soluble mycotoxins, such as aflatoxin, remain in the grain. Regarding breads--it probably doesn’t matter if it’s organic, inorganic, sprouted, blessed or not--if it came from a grain that has been stored for months in a silo, it stands the chance of being contaminated with fungi and mycotoxins.

4. Barley
Similar to other grains that can be damaged by drought, floods and harvesting and storage processes, barley is equally susceptible to contamination by mycotoxin-producing fungi. Barley is used in the production of various cereals and alcoholic beverages.

5. Sugar (sugar cane and sugar beets)
Not only are sugar cane and sugar beets often contaminated with fungi and their associated fungi, but they, like the other grains, fuel the growth of fungi. Fungi need carbohydrates--sugars--to thrive.

6. Sorghum
Sorghum is used in a variety of grain-based products intended for both humans and animals. It is also used in the production of alcoholic beverages.

7. Peanuts
A 1993 study demonstrated 24 different types of fungi that colonized the inside of the peanuts used in the report (Costantini, A. Etiology and Prevention of Atherosclerosis. Fungalbionics Series.1998/99). And this was after the exterior of the peanut was sterilized! So, when you choose to eat peanuts, not only are you potentially eating these molds, but also their mycotoxins. Incidentally, in the same study the examiners found 23 different fungi on the inside of corn kernels. That said, if you choose to plant your own garden in an attempt to avoid mycotoxin contamination of corn or peanuts, it does you no good if the seed (kernel) used to plant your garden is already riddled with mold.

8. Rye
The same goes for rye as for wheat and other grains. In addition, when we use wheat and rye to make bread, we add two other products that compound our fungal concerns: sugar and yeast!

9. Cottonseed
Cottonseed is typically found in the oil form (cottonseed oil), but is also used in the grain form for many animal foods. Many studies show that cottonseed is highly and often contaminated with mycotoxins.

10. Hard Cheeses
Here’s a hint: if you see mold growing throughout your cheese, no matter what you paid for it, there’s a pretty good chance that there’s a mycotoxin not far from the mold. It is estimated that each fungus on Earth produces up to three different mycotoxins. The total number of mycotoxins known to date numbers in the thousands.
On the other hand, some cheeses, such as Gouda cheese, are made with yogurt-type cultures, like Lactobacillus, and not fungi (Costantini, 1998/99). These cheeses are a much healthier alternative, fungally speaking.
Naturally, with this list coming from a group that opposes eating food that is merely contaminated with fungi, we’d certainly oppose eating the fungus itself! That would include common table mushrooms and so-called myco-protein food products.
Other foods that could potentially make our list are rice, oats and beans, given that these too are sources of carbohydrates. And occasionally food inspectors will come across a batch of mold-contaminated rice or oats. However, all other things being equal, these crops are generally more resistant to fungal contamination (CAST 1989).


*Diseases linked to fungi and their mycotoxins

AIDS
Alcoholic cirrhosis
Alzheimer’s
Amyloidosis
Anorexia Nervosa
Atherosclerosis
Balkan Nephropathy
Bechet’s
Biliary cirrhosis
Cardiomyopathy
Crohn’s disease
Cushing’s disease
Diabetes
DIC
Muscular Dystrophy
Encephalopathy

Ergotism
Familial Mediterranean Fever
Gout
Heart failure
Hyperactivity Syndrome
Hyperaldosteronism
Hyperlipidemia (high lipids)
Hypertension
Infertility
IgA Nephropathy
Kidney stones
Leukocytoclastic vasculitis
Inflammatory bowel disease
Mollaret’s meningitis
Multiple Sclerosis
Nephritis (kidney inflammation)

Obesity
Osteoarthritis
Osteoporosis
Precocious puberty
Psoriasis
Pulmonary Hypertension
Raynaud’s Syndrome/disease
Reye’s syndrome
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Sarcoidosis
Scleroderma
Shoulder-hand syndrome
Thrombocytopenic purpura
(low platelets)
Vasculitis


Boston-Biosafety Cares

Friday, October 5, 2007

PUR Flavor Options (flavored water) Death Tonic

This is a little off topic for this blog, however there are a few things that burn my bottom that I must write about.

The other day I heard that the company named PUR introduced a new product to market that injects flavoring into your filtered tap water. Well, I figured unless you take fresh fruit and squeeze the juice into your water, the PUR system must be 100% artificial, full of chemicals. I instantly went to the PUR website (http://www.purwater.com/) to investigate.

Well, it was no surprise that when I found the ingredients, I almost choked. The first ingredient listed (besides TAP water) is PROPYLENE GLYCOL -15%.

Propylene Glycol is used in Antifreeze, you know...the stuff used in your cars....the stuff that can kill your dog if they drink it......

Most Common Uses For Propylene Glycol
Antifreezing Agents
De-icing agents
Heat Transferring Agents
Liquid-phase Transfer Media (Temps 0-300C)
Heat Transferring Agents
Secondary Coolants
Softeners in Cosmetic Emollient Moisturizers

Let's look at all of the ingredients listed.

1. Propylene Glycol 15%
2. Citric Acid
3. Raspberry/Peach/Strawberry Flavor
4. Alcohol 3%
5. Sodium Citrate
6. Malic Acid
7. Acesulfame K
8. Sucralose
9. Benzoic Acid
10. Sorbic Acid
11. Sodium Chloride

Let's now examine each ingredient.

1. Propylene Glycol - (see above)

2. Citric Acid - Citric acid is recognized as safe for use in food by all major national and international food regulatory agencies. However, what is the source/quality of the citric acid?

3. Raspberry/Peach/Strawberry Flavor - What is this? Well, is it from real fruit or is it artificial? Find out more about "natural" flavors at http://www.russellblaylockmd.com/

4. Alcohol 3% - Another vague ingredient, let's hope it's not Isopropyl.

5. Sodium Citrate - Sodium Citrate is used in ice cream to keep the fat globules from sticking together. It is also an anti-coagulant.

6. Malic Acid - Malic acid is the source of extreme tartness. It is also used with or in place of the less sour citric acid in sour candies such as Jolly Ranchers and SweeTarts. These candies are sometimes labeled with a warning that excessive consumption can cause irritation of the mouth.

7. Acesulfame K - READ THIS! From CSPI's web page:
... acetoacetamide, a breakdown product, has been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs. Administration of 1% and 5% acetoacetamide in the diet for three months caused benign thyroid tumors in rats. The rapid appearance of tumors raises serious questions about the chemicalÕs carcinogenic potency."

8. Sucralose - (Splenda) I could dedicate an entire website on the dangers of this ingredient. Do yourself a favor and just perform an Internet search, you will be sickened. Check out Dr. Mercola's website for more info. http://www.mercola.com/2000/dec/3/sucralose_dangers.htm

9. Benzoic Acid (Carboxybenzene) -Benzoic acid is used as an anti-microbial agent.

10. Sorbic Acid - Sorbic acid is used to inhibit molds, yeasts, and fungi in many foods, such as cheese, wine, and baked goods. Sometimes confused with ascorbic acid, (Vitamin C)

11. Sodium Chloride - Known as salt, table salt, sea salt, rock salt, common salt.

Sounds PUR to me! Anyone up for a nice glass of chemicals?

ENJOY!

Check out this great link for more about the dangers of the food "they" let us eat.
http://www.foodfigures.com/

Boston-Biosafety Cares

Friday, September 28, 2007

Brain-Eating Amoeba Kills Arizona Boy

PHOENIX -- A 14-year-old Lake Havasu boy has become the sixth victim to die nationwide this year of a microscopic organism that attacks the body through the nasal cavity, quickly eating its way to the brain.
Aaron Evans died Sept. 17 of Naegleria fowleri, an organism doctors said he probably picked up a week before while swimming in the balmy shallows of Lake Havasu.

According to the Centers For Disease Control, Naegleria infected 23 people from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials said they've noticed a spike in cases, with six Naegleria-related cases so far -- all of them fatal.

"This is definitely something we need to track," said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational water-born illnesses for the CDC.
"This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better," Beach said. "In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."


Organism Lives In Lake Bottoms

Though infections tend to be found in southern states, Naegleria has been found almost everywhere in lakes, hot springs, even some swimming pools. Still, the CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.

The amoeba typically live in lake bottoms, grazing off algae and bacteria in the sediment. Beach said people become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose -- say, by doing a cannonball off a cliff -- the amoeba can latch onto the person's olfactory nerve.

The amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up to the brain.

People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers, Beach said. In the later stages, they'll show signs of brain damage such as hallucinations and behavioral changes.

Once infected, most people have little chance of survival.

Some drugs have been effective stopping the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been attacked rarely survive, Beach said.

"Usually, from initial exposure it's fatal within two weeks,"

Researchers still have much to learn about Naegleria, Beach said. For example, it seems that children are more likely to get infected.

Texas, Florida Report Cases

In addition to the Arizona case, health officials reported two cases in Texas and three more in central Florida this year. In response, central Florida authorities started an amoeba telephone hot line advising people to avoid warm, standing water, or any areas with obvious algae blooms.
Texas health officials also have issued news releases about the dangers of amoeba attacks and to be cautious around water.

Beach warned that people shouldn't panic about the dangers of brain-eating amoeba. Infections are extremely rare when compared with the number of times a year people come into contact with water.

The easiest way to prevent infection, Beach said, is to simply plug your nose when swimming or diving in fresh water.

"You'd have to have water going way up in your nose to begin with" to be infected, he said.


Additionally

Just like amoebas in water, and the smallest of bacteria and viruses, these little buggers are often big trouble. Too often people brush-off mold in their homes and consider mold a non issue. I can tell you first hand how mold can make you sick for a long time. Don't underestimate the impact of mold or any pathogen. Treating your home for mold is much cheaper than paying medical bills.

Boston-Biosafety Cares

Monday, September 17, 2007

Multiple Sclerosis: Chronic Mycotoxicosis?

The evidence brought forth by various scientists over the years and compiled in a small section of this book is quite compelling. It is so compelling that, at this point, I believe scientists will be forced into a position of proving that mycotoxins are NOT the cause of MS. MS is characterized by destruction of the protective sheath- called the myelin sheath- around nerves in the brain and the spinal cord. As a result, the transmission of nerve impulses to other nerves, muscles, and vital organs is interrupted. This impaired nerve function translates into symptoms such as difficulty in walking, abnormal, "pins and needles" sensations throughout the body; pain and loss of vision due to inflammation of the optic nerve, tremors, incoordination, paralysis, and impaired thinking and memory (2). In addition, muscle wasting, bladder dysfunction, fatigue, osteoporosis, and a host of other problems may develop either directly or indirectly due to this nerve damage.

Although there is a genetic predisposition toward MS, as proven in studies of twins, only a third of those that are genetically susceptible will get MS, indicating there is still an outside factor involved (3). MS is more common in those born and raised above the 37th parallel (a line extending from Newport News, VA to Santa Cruz, CA); however, if a person moves to an area of low risk (i.e. below the 40th parallel) prior to adolescence, they assume the lower risk of their new location. These last points support the idea of an environmental exposure link to the disease.

Mycotoxins are chemicals made by fungi. They are found in grains that have been contaminated with fungi and mold. Some mycotoxins are used for medicinal purposes. Antibiotics, such as penicillin and the cephalosporin drugs, are fungal metabolites- they are mycotoxins. Alcohol is a mycotoxin. Aflatoxin, the most carcinogenic substance on earth, is a mycotoxin. The most commonly contaminated crops are peanuts, corn, and wheat.
Often, other foods such as barley, apples, sorghum and rye can be contaminated as well. Some mycotoxins are produced in our body by the yeast in our intestines or vaginal tract. In one study, 3 women severely symptomatic for vaginal candidiasis were found to have vaginal fluid samples with significant levels of a mycotoxin called gliotoxin (4). From our environment, we can be exposed to mycotoxins through countless routes: ingestion, inhalation, skin contact, etc.

We already know that, in MS, there is a loss of molecules called sphingolipids from the white matter in the central nervous system (5). What is not well known is the fact that mycotoxins can actually disrupt sphingolipid biosynthesis (6). Specifically, gliotoxin, as we mentioned above, on a slightly larger scale can induce nerve cell death (apoptosis).

Gliotoxin is a heat stable chemical made by Aspergillus, Candida, and other species of fungi. (7). Not coincidentally, scientists have recovered a heat stable toxin from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of MS patients. In this particular study, they took the CSF from MS patients, heat-treated it to destroy any infectious germs, and then exposed it to nerve cells in a laboratory culture. What happened? The nerve cells died! They called this heat-stable toxin "gliotoxin."
The source of gliotoxin appears to be, again, primarily from the yeast and fungi within the human body. As such, gliotoxin is less important as an agricultural scourge than are other mycotoxins such as fumonisins, made by Fusarium and Aspergillus fungi, and the penetrim D toxin made by Penicillium crustosum. Fumonisins are a group of mycotoxins that happen to be neurotoxic as well as carcinogenic. They are "universally present in corn and corn-based products." (8). Penitrem mycotoxins are found in things such as moldy apple products. Penetrem D can cause tremors, convulsions, limb weakness, and ataxis (unsteady gait), "not unlike the symptoms observed in MS." (9).

As there are different classes of MS (chronic progressive, relapsing-remitting, etc.) it may very well be that the different classes are being caused by different classes of mycotoxins. In addition, the regional differences in the prevalence of MS might be explained by the particular agricultural products that dominate the most affected areas. For example, the part of America that lies above the 37th parallel also happens to encompass the cornbelt. Remember that corn is universally contaminated with mycotoxins (7). This area is also represented by much of the wheat belt. Is this just a coincidence, or good evidence of an environmental exposure risk factor?

Let’s talk about some of the latest treatments for MS. Dr. Mercola has already stated in a previous article that most MS drugs are a waste of money (10). The new buzz on the town, however, is that statin drugs (cholesterol-lowering drugs) have proven effective in slowing the progression of MS (11-13). Their effectiveness should not surprise us, in light of the fungal/mycotoxin theory, when we also learn that statin drugs are antifungal (14).
Dr. Mercola has also mentioned in previous articles that Vitamin D as well as plain old sunlight can reduce mortality from and positively influence the immune system in MS (15,16). Other researchers have explained that the reason why these work is, once again, Vitamin D, whether taken in the form of a cod liver oil supplement or made naturally by our body from sunlight exposure, is anti-mycotoxin (14).

Last year a German researcher claimed that eating smoked sausage in childhood was responsible for causing multiple sclerosis later in life. (16). Dr. A.V. Costantini, retired head of the World Health Organization’s collaborating center for mycotoxins in food, helps us out here by explaining that smoked and aged meats are often contaminated with mycotoxins (18). Thus the cause of MS, according to these and other researchers, is right in our food.

In another of Dr. Mercola’s articles, he talked about how starving mice with an MS-like condition resulted in fewer symptoms and decreased progression of the illness (19). Why does starvation work? In our humbled opinion, it could be as simple as: the fewer foods taken in, the fewer mycotoxins that enter the body. You see, if we are following the standard, food pyramid, grain based American diet, we are consuming on average from 0.15 to 0.5mg of aflatoxin per day (8). Aflatoxin is the only regulated mycotoxin in America, so what level of exposure we have to the other, known mycotoxins in our diet that we’ve discussed is a guess, at best. So starvation diets not only deprive us of calories. They also "deprive" us of disease-causing, carcinogenic mycotoxins.

If indeed mycotoxins cause MS, then there are a number of steps one must take to minimize exposure to fungi and their mycotoxins. We just finished talking about diet. Since mycotoxins are commonly found in grain foods (7,8), then it would be wise to minimize grains in our diet. Doug Kaufmann outlines his Initial Phase diet in our book, The Fungus Link, Volume 2. As well, Dr. Mercola has published his book, The No-Grain Diet, which offers equally valuable information. Secondly, we should minimize our exposure to antibiotics.

Antibiotics are, for the most part, derived from fungi and are therefore classified as mycotoxins. If we’ve taken lots of antibiotics in the past, we should attempt to correct the damage done by these by taking a good probiotic supplement. Lastly, if we have any obvious signs of fungal infection in our body, and to us, simply having MS might qualify as an obvious sign, it might behoove us to take natural or prescriptive antifungals for a period of time. Remember that gliotoxin can be made by fungi and yeast that are already in the body, not necessarily by fungi that reside in contaminated foods.

Future research should be directed at treating the disease as if it were caused by fungi and their devastating mycotoxins.

Courtesy of David Holland, MD

Boston-Biosafety Cares

Friday, September 7, 2007

Mold / Antibiotics Linked to Asthma, Allergies

If allergies are making your life unbearable, the real culprit might not be your congested head; it could be the microbes in your gut.

Scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School presented findings from studies that involved laboratory mice. Results showed that antibiotics might be responsible for producing changes in microbes in the gastrointestinal tract, which in turn could impact the way the immune system responds to common allergens in the lungs.

Gary B. Huffnagle, associate professor of internal medicine, stated that antibiotics got rid of bacteria in the gut, which enabled fungi to take control until the bacteria grew back after the antibiotics were discontinued.

Researchers explained the relationship between the gastrointestinal, respiratory and immune system in the body by describing how with each inhalation, pollen and dust particles are trapped and enter the stomach with the production of saliva and mucus created as you swallow.

In other experiments, scientists found that fungi produced oxylipins, which are molecules that could determine the kind and severity level of immune responses. This supported the idea that fungal oxylipins in the GI tract helped avoid the production of regulatory T cells for ingested allergens. This caused T cells in the respiratory system to become susceptible to common allergens such as mold spores and pollen.

These factors combined result in a hyperactive immune response, which could result in allergy symptoms and in some cases, asthma.

This hypothesis was tested on mice who were administered oral antibiotics for five days and then given one oral introduction of the yeast called Candida albicans, which was used to reproduce a steady group of microbes in both the gastrointestinal system and intestines.

Findings from the study include:
The mice were injected with common mold spores two days after the antibiotics were stopped and possible allergic side effects were evaluated with both groups of mice, those that were given the antibiotic and those that were not.
The mice that were given antibiotics and exposed to C. albicans displayed higher rates of pulmonary hypersensitivity to A. fumigatus as opposed to the mice that weren't given any antibiotics.
Based on these findings, researchers concluded the changes to both the growth of bacteria and fungi within the GI tract disrupted the function of the regulatory T cells to lessen the immune system reaction to respiratory allergens. Researchers expressed hope that by learning how microflora in the GI tract impacted the immune system might hold the key to treating allergies with dietary changes or through taking probiotics, dietary supplements responsible for producing "healthy" bacteria, in order to regulate the microbes in the gut.

Researchers stressed the importance of following a nutritious diet complete with an abundance of raw fruits and vegetables after taking antibiotics as a way to speed up the process of bringing the microbes in the GI tract back to healthy levels.



Boston-Biosafety Cares

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Radon Gas, What Are The Risks?

Most of the time if you have mold, there is an associated smell. Well, unlike mold, Radon is odorless, colorless and tasteless. Oh, did I mention it is also radioactive? There are two sides of the fence regarding Radon.

Side #1 - Oh my God, we detected Radon...run or you will die!

Side #2 - You have Radon? Eh, no big deal.

I have a friend that works for the FDA, and has worked for them before "day-1" of the Radon craze. One day we had a great conversation about Radon and his personal thoughts on the subject. I want to make it clear that his personal thoughts are not exactly the same as his employer (FDA). So, when we were talking, it was friend to friend.

He told me about how the FDA became involved with Radon.

It all started way back at the time of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant incident in Pennsylvania (1979). One day, when an unknowing employee was scanned while entering the facility, he set off the radiation detectors. To make matters worse, they could not determine how this employee became exposed. Well, as part of their investigation, and team was sent to his house where they found the source of his exposure. They detected radon gas in his house.

Since that time Radon has been kicked around in the media and has scared home owners, home buyers, home inspectors, real estate agents and medical practitioners. Even within the Boston area, both sides still butt heads.

When people hear the word RADIOACTIVE, they become scared. I'm going to warn you about reading any further.

Bananas are radioactive! WHAT, you say? Bananas contain Potassium (K40) which is radioactive and will set of radiation detectors.

I'm certainly not saying since it is OK to eat "radioactive" bananas, that it's OK to be exposed to Radon.


Just like mold, Radon can be dangerous. But to who is not clearly defined and is debated by scientists and medical practitioners all over the world.


Allow me to Paraphrase the FDA's stance on Radon.

The FDA states that 20,000/year die from Radon. However the number is skewed. They do not have evidence to support their claim.

Risk Factors:
* Radiation levels of Radon.
* Duration of exposure to the Radon.
* General Health of the occupants.
* Age of the occupants.
* Smokers / Non-smokers
* Genetics!!!!!!

If you are retired, and a smoker that has a bedroom and living space in a basement, you are more likely to be affected by exposure to Radon. Unless you have good genes and you will be fine.

If you are a young and healthy, non-smoker that has a bedroom on the second floor, you are less likely to be affected by exposure to Radon. Unless you have bad genes and then you are in trouble.

I hope you now understand how ridiculous their stance is.



THE END-ing
So, what am I saying, is Radon dangerous or not? I do not take any pathogen lightly. I will always lean toward the side of caution. Why take a chance?

However, I do not want you to be scared, I want you to be informed. So, if you have Radon issues, research the topic. So, no matter if it is mold or radon, be informed, not afraid.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Allergy / Asthma Related to Mold?

I often have clients that relay to me that they or their children have asthma. I also had a client that worked in a maintenance department that complained of "asthma like symptoms". His desk was in the basement of a building that was infected with mold. Often we hear of complaints of allergy symptoms from our clients. Often these same clients will report their allergy symptoms diminishing or completely going away. This should not be a surprise since molds are directly related to pulmonary illnesses.

Last year I received a call from a gentleman in Boston that had sewage backup into his basement. The sewage level was almost 1ft. high. He also stated that his young son had developed asthma over the past year. Is it related to the sewage problem? Let me break it down for you.

The sewage flood happened a few years prior to his call to me, and he complained his basement now smelled musty. He had a nice finished basement, complete with a bar and big screen tv. He had a raised wooden floor in the basement laid over wooden 2x4's. Which means he had a perfect breeding ground for mold under that floor. Upon visual inspection, we noticed mold on different materials in different areas of the basement including a bathroom. Our lab tests confirmed the presence of Stachybotrys (black mold) and another strain. It didn't surprise us that he had Stachy, since the flooding was sewage related and the fact it stayed wet for an extented amount of time.

What is the basic definition of asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways, which are the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs.



Here is an interesting article published by the CDC. (condensed)

Health Concerns Associated with Mold in Water-Damaged Homes After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita --- New Orleans Area, Louisiana, October 2005
After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita made landfall on August 29 and September 24, 2005, respectively, large sections of New Orleans (Orleans Parish) and the three surrounding parishes (Jefferson, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard) were flooded for weeks, leading to extensive mold growth in buildings. As residents reoccupied the city, local health-care providers and public health authorities were concerned about the potential for respiratory health effects from exposure to water-damaged homes. On October 6, CDC was invited by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH) to assist in documenting the extent of potential exposures. This report summarizes the results of that investigation, which determined that 46% of inspected homes had visible mold growth and that residents and remediation workers did not consistently use appropriate respiratory protection. Public health interventions should emphasize the importance of safe remediation practices and ensure the availability of recommended personal protective equipment.

Of 112 homes inspected (Table), flood levels had been high (>6 feet) in 21 (18.8%) homes, medium (3--6 feet) in 19 (17.0%), and low (<3>50% coverage on interior wall of most-affected room). The distribution of homes with heavy mold coverage was 10 (52.6%), seven (36.8%), and two (10.5%) in high, medium, and low flood areas, respectively.
Participants reported being indoors doing heavy cleaning an average of 13 hours since the hurricanes (range: 0--84 hours) and 15 hours doing light cleaning (range: 0--90 hours). Sixty-eight (60.7%) participants reported inhabiting their homes overnight for an average of 25 (standard deviation: +13.7) nights since the hurricanes.
Indoor air samples were collected nonrandomly at 20 (16%) homes; outdoor air samples were also collected for 11 of these homes. Predominant fungi indoors and outdoors were Aspergillus spp. and Penicillium spp. Geometric mean (1®3,1®6)-b-D-glucan air levels were 1.6 µg/m3 (geometric standard deviation [GSD]: 4.4) indoors and 0.9 µg/m3 (GSD: 2.0) outdoors; endotoxin levels were 23.3 EU/m3 (GSD: 5.6) indoors and 10.5 EU/m3 (GSD: 2.5) outdoors. Glucan and endotoxin levels were significantly correlated (correlation coefficient r = 0.56; p = 0.0095). The geometric mean glucan and endotoxin levels were higher indoors compared with outdoors but the differences were not statistically significant.

In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed the literature regarding health outcomes related to damp indoor spaces (4). In addition to the risk for opportunistic fungal infections in immunocompromised persons, IOM found sufficient evidence for an association between both damp indoor spaces and mold and upper respiratory symptoms (nasal congestion and throat irritation) and lower respiratory symptoms (cough, wheeze, and exacerbation of asthma). The findings of this report indicate that, in the New Orleans area post-hurricane, indoor environmental conditions and personal practices provided exposures that potentially put residents and remediation workers at risk for these negative health effects.
This study used markers that have been used in exposure assessments in water-damaged buildings, including cultured fungi and microbial structural components (bacterial endotoxins and fungal glucans). Interpreting the significance of these measures is not straightforward, and health-based indoor exposure limits for these compounds have not been established (4,5). Previous measurements of airborne endotoxin in homes have averaged <1.0 EU/m3, with indoor levels generally lower than outdoor ones (6). In post-hurricane New Orleans homes, mean indoor endotoxin levels were more than 20 times higher than the 1.0 EU/m3 average, with an inversion of the expected indoor-outdoor relationship. This mean level exceeds that associated with respiratory symptoms in one study (7). In five New Orleans homes, the measured indoor endotoxin levels were comparable to those of certain industrial settings in which declines in pulmonary function have been demonstrated (8). Exposure to (1®3)-b-D-glucan, a cell-wall component not specific to fungi, has also been linked to respiratory health effects in certain studies (5). In this assessment, a newer assay for (1®3,1®6)-b-D-glucan (2), a different glucan with higher specificity for fungi, yielded higher indoor than outdoor levels in New Orleans homes. Although differences in the two glucan assays preclude direct comparisons, the findings of this assessment indicated that mold growth inside homes was likely at or above a level sometimes reported to be associated with certain health effects (e.g., cough; airway hyper-reactivity; influenza-like symptoms; ear, nose, and throat irritation; decreased lung function; and skin rash) (5).
As you know I don't like this blog full of medical terms, however I felt it was important to have this article, based on the merits of the professionals involved. It's important you know the facts.

We Love Boston!

Do it Yourself Mold Remediation?

Well, there is a lot of talk out there, in DIY forums and even websites that (for a fee) will give you the steps on how to remediate your household mold. Let's look at the positive and negative aspects of DIY mold removal and the vultures that prey on the DIY'ers that want to save money and bypass professional services. These vultures do not care about you, your health or the health of your family. Nor do they care about protecting your investment.

If someone tells you to use bleach to kill the mold, ask them if they also still believe in the Easter Bunny.

I know most people that are reading this will think that since I am in the "mold" business, my blog will be biased.....well, I guess it is. My experience in the industry has actually prompted me to start this blog. Over the years I have experienced many scenarios involving DIY'ers and would like to share them with you.



SCARE TACTICS!
I do NOT believe in using scare tactics as a way to inform the public about mold/mould. Let me state this now and let it be known that MOLD CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH! I know of many homeowners, contractors, real estate agents, home inspectors and maintenance personal that have exposed themselves to mold and suffer health related problems. So, before you read any further I do not condone DIY mold remediation in 90% of the cases, and I'll tell you why.
Let's get to the meat of the matter.
I will try to state everything in the most simplest of terms and not bog you down with terminology or blather.
Why I do not condone DIY mold remediation.
Mold is not a stain, it's not a plant. Mold is a fungus, which falls under it's own catatgory. Unless you know it is dead, it is alive, even if it is dormant, it's alive! So, I could spew out 10 pages in order to educate you on fungi, but again...let's keep it simple. Like other living organisms, mold wants to survive and thrive. It does this by producing spores and it produces as many spores as it can before it dies. These microscopic spores float around in the air you breath and hope they land on a spot that will allow them to mature. An ideal spot would be on something organic and something wet.
Why am I telling you this? Well, most people do not consider the spores when they have mold.
Example: So, a DIY'er finds mold on the sheetrock in their basement. They decide to cut that section off and throw it away thinking that is the end of the mold. Ooops, they notice the mold was also growing on the inside surface of the sheetrock and on the concrete. Dang, now they just exposed that mold and released millions of more spores into the air. And since air in the basement is typically stagnant, the DIY'er just got a nice lung full of spores....the spores that love organic, wet places.
Cross Contamination
Well, just like seeds of a plant, those spores are out there looking for a new home. These millions of spores will stick to items like cardboard, leather and wood. Do you have any wood in your basement? Wood....like the framing of your house and the floor joists and sub floor...hmmmm.
Now cross contamination can occure when you pull something out of your basement and put it in an upstairs closet, or track it upstairs on your shoes. Your dog or cat can bring it upstairs.
Here is another example I would like to share. A real estate agent that often refers me to clients called me one day and stated the trunk of her car smelled musty. Well, sure enough mold was detected. Here is the kicker, she often kept her dress shoes and boots in the trunk of her car. These are the same shoes that she uses when she shows property. Unfortunately, the average real estate agent exposes themselves to mold more often than they would like to think. They are always in basements of houses the buildings that are often times infected. Not to say she could not have picked up leaf or dirt particles from the outside and put them away wet in her trunk...either way, it is an example of cross contamination.
DIY Vultures
There are websites out there that will charge you money to "teach" you how to remediate your mold. I will tell you with complete honesty, they will steal your money and you will be left no better off. Are you going to buy $20,000 worth of equipment to do it your self? Do you know how to properly protect yourself? Do you have a license to use biocides? How are you going to address the spores in the air? Let me tell you, Lysol is not the answer.
Unless you are cleaning mold in your shower, leave mold remediation to a biosafety professional.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Moldy Food and Your Health

How many times have you opened up your fridge to find mold has grown on your food? Every year, the average family throws away hundreds of dollars in "spoiled" food due to mold. The average commercial kitchen can throw away thousands of dollars a year.

One way to avoid molds in your refrigerator is to treat your produce gently, Molds love bruises.

Food Molds

The bluish-green molds that grow on breads and on acidic fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, for example, belong to the Penicillium family. Some penicilliums can produce unsavory mycotoxins like ochratoxin, but many others seem to be benign.

Some of these molds produce toxic chemicals, known as mycotoxins.

The same goes for the molds that will form on cheeses. Most of the toxins they produce are unstable or can be removed by trimming.

The bottom line is that if you carefully trim away mold on firm fruits and vegetables and hard cheeses, and if you throw away soft foods and dairy products with any mold on them, you should be able to protect yourself against just about anything your refrigerator throws at you.

Don't try to cook molds away, cooking doesn't destroy many mycotoxins.
The riskiest molds usually do not grow in our refrigerators, but in the fields and storage bins of our farms. If they make it into our food, it's likely to be in corn and other grains.

Moldy Grain

Farmers have long known that moldy grain can be dangerous. Farm animals that eat mycotoxin-tainted feed suffer from conditions like "slobber syndrome" and "staggers." Many die or miscarry.
And it's generally bread or other products made from moldy grain that are responsible for outbreaks of mold poisoning in humans, which almost always occur in the Third World.

Around The World

In 1987 thousands of people in India suffered abdominal pain and other symptoms after eating bread made from moldy wheat. The outbreak was apparently caused by mycotoxins called trichothecenes, which include deoxynivalenol (DON).
An often-fatal kidney disease known as Balkan endemic nephropathy, which affects people who live in rural areas of Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia, has been linked with ochratoxin A, a mycotoxin that can contaminate beans, grains, and some of the meat of pigs hat eat tainted grain. Myco-Carcinogens. Mold contamination reaches the high levels seen in many developing countries. In part, that's because our food production is more carefully controlled. And, we seldom have to choose between eating moldy food and going hungry.

In The United States

If low levels of mycotoxins caused long-term health problems like cancer or weakened immune systems, we'd never know it, because the government doesn't regularly monitor our food for the presence of most poisons that are produced by molds. And that's not at all comforting.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture does routinely look for allatoxin-the best-known of the mycotoxins-at least in peanuts. But it pretty much ignores two other possible cancer causers, ochratoxin A and zearalenone, and looks for a fourth mycotoxin (DON)

Aflatoxins

Aflatoxin, which occurs mostly in moldy peanuts and corn, has been called one of the most potent carcinogens ever tested in laboratory animals.
And it's only one of 50 substances the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) calls carcinogenic to humans.

Peanut Butter

According to tests carried out last year by Consumer Reports magazine, aflatoxin levels were lowest in major brands of peanut butter like Jif, Skippy, and Peter Pan. The most aflatoxin was found in fresh-ground peanut butters from supermarkets and health food stores.

Don't eat moldy or shriveled-up peanuts!

Cancer

There is clear evidence" that ochratoxin A causes cancer in rats, according to the National Toxicology Program. Other studies show that it also causes cancer in mice.

In the Balkan areas where kidney problems linked to ochratoxin are common, people are 28 times more likely to develop cancer of the urinary tract-and 88 times more likely to develop a particular type of kidney cancer-than people living in Balkan areas where ochratoxin is not common.

Although that's not proof, it's certainly reason to suspect that ochratoxin A may cause cancer in humans.

But how much of it is in our food? No one really knows.

In the United States, some surveys have found low levels of ochratoxin A in as much as three percent of the wheat and 14 percent of the barley sampled, although a recent DA survey found no trace of it in 350 samples of foods, including wheat and barley.

Several European countries have set maximum legal limits for ochratoxin; the U.S. and Canada have not.

Tumors

Another mycotoxin, Zearalenone, which is produced by one of the Fusarium molds, is occasionally found in corn products like breakfast cereals and cornmeal. it causes pituitary tumors in male and female mice and liver tumors in female mice.

Cereal / Baby Food

Fusarium molds can produce dozens of different mycotoxins called trichothecenes. In the few surveys that have been conducted, one of them, deoxynivalenol (DON), frequently turns up at low levels in breakfast cereals, breads, and baby foods.

"DON has been a big problem in wheat grown in the Midwest," says FDA chemist Garnett Wood.



Good Molds

Not all molds are bad In fact, some can save your life.

* Penicillin - Penicillin is produced by two molds: Penicillium notatum and Penicillium chrysogenurn.

* Cheese - Some people think cheese is mold. It's not, but mold does help ripen" some cheeses like Brie and Camembert, which owe their white skin" to Penicillium camemberti. And, that pungent smell-and the bluish-green discoloration-coveted by blue cheese fans comes from Penicillium roquefortl

* Bowm Cinerea, also known as the Noble Rot, helps to produce some of the world's rarest, sweet white wines. The mold infests the grapes, injuring their skins and allowing moisture to evaporate. The result- a raisin-like grape that produces an intensely flavored special-edition sauterne or spatlese.


What can you do?

There are things you can do, here are a few.

1. Do not buy bruised produce.
2. Do not buy over ripe produce.
3. Be gentle with your food. Any food that can bruise should not be at the bottom of the shopping bag or stored under the weight of other items in your fridge.
4. Clean your fridge frequently.
5. Do not put produce away wet.
6. If any of the food in your fridge becomes moldy, remove the food and clean your fridge.

DO NOT USE BLEACH

Why bleach is still allowed to be bought in the supermarket is beyond me. Just search in google "bleach dangers" and you will find enough information on the subject to sway your next purchase.

Ozone / Ozonated Water - For Cleaning
I personally use ozonated water to clean all of the fresh produce before it enters my fridge. Also, once a week, I ozonate the air in the fridge. I have been doing this for years with great success. Not only does my fresh produce last longer, my fridge is a much healthier environment for all of my food.

Good Quality Ozone Generators

We supply the food industry all around Boston with commercial ozone units, but we also provide units that are perfect for the home along with training on the units.

Last year we tested our "home" unit by turning it on and just letting it run continuously for over 4 months. After 4 months, it produced the same ozone levels as it did when it was new.

The internet is full of junk ozone products. If you are in the market for an ozone generator, do not buy a cheap unit, they just won't last.

And, since the average home owner does not want to spend $1,200.00 for a ozone meter, how will you know if your cheap ozone generator is working?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Musty?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions during the summer months. Most people are referring to the removable, window-mount units. The answer is quite simple.

Mold requires three things in order to grow:

1. Organic material.
2. Moisture (water)
3. Oxygen

* After some use, the AC unit will collect dust, dander, dirt and other material that may contain organic material inside the housing. So, you now have 1 of the 3 needed.

* There is Oxygen in the air. Now we have 2 of the 3.

* The AC unit is one big condenser which produces moisture. Now we have 3 of the 3 needed.

So, it is just a matter of time before mold and bacteria are growing in you AC unit.

Although the means of contamination is different, this is common with all AC systems, including residential and commercial HVAC systems.




Treatment

Window-Mount - We offer services to address mold in these units, however the prices of new units are so cheap, unless you had two units to treat, it may not be worth it.

HVAC - Unit and duct cleaning by a certified professional is advised. If you cannot find one, we can recommend one for you. Just send us an email. Install an UV/Ozone purification system. Email us for more information.


We are currently talking with AC repair shops around the Boston area to provide in-house service for them. Once complete, they will be listed on our website.



Prevention

Window-Mount
1. Make sure the drain hole is not clogged.
2. Follow the manufacturers' recommendations for mounting the unit. If the unit is not at the proper angle, the water may not flow out as designed. This does not mean you should angle the unit. PLEASE, follow the manufacturers mounting procedures.
3. Try to keep the unit clean by regularly cleaning or replacing the filters.
4. Make sure the unit is completely dry before storing it. Also make sure the unit is covered during storage so dirt does not enter the unit.

HVAC
1. Replace the filters as recommended by the manufacturer.
2. Frequent cleaning of the ducts.
3. We offer the installation of UV and Ozone air purification units. These are low cost, low maintenance units.
4. Proper insulation to prevent condensation.
5. Proper drainage.

AC Unit Placement Issues

Basement Windows - The closer to the ground an AC unit is placed, the more it is likely to become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. A low mounted unit is subjected to dirtier air and debris blown around by the wind. Also, insects are more likely to make it a home.

Dark Side - AC units that do not get sunlight are prone to develope mold/growth issues. We have also encountered moss growing on them.

Street Mount - If an AC unit is mounted near a busy street or traffic area, indoor air quality issues may occur. This is more common with diesel engines since the diesel exhaust is heavy and tends to linger.




Legionnaires’ Disease

CDC States:




What is Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease (LEE-juh-nares) is caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella. The bacteria got its name in 1976, when many people who went to a Philadelphia convention of the American Legion suffered from an outbreak of this disease, a type of pneumonia (lung infection). Although this type of bacteria was around before1976, more illness from Legionnaires’ disease is being detected now. This is because we are now looking for this disease whenever a patient has pneumonia.
Each year, between 8,000 and 18,000 people are hospitalized with Legionnaires' disease in the U.S. However, many infections are not diagnosed or reported, so this number may be higher. More illness is usually found in the summer and early fall, but it can happen any time of year.

What are the symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires' disease can have symptoms like many other forms of pneumonia, so it can be hard to diagnose at first. Signs of the disease can include: a high fever, chills, and a cough. Some people may also suffer from muscle aches and headaches. Chest X-rays are needed to find the pneumonia caused by the bacteria, and other tests can be done on sputum (phlegm), as well as blood or urine to find evidence of the bacteria in the body.
These symptoms usually begin 2 to 14 days after being exposed to the bacteria.
A milder infection caused by the same type of Legionella bacteria is called Pontiac Fever. The symptoms of Pontiac Fever usually last for 2 to 5 days and may also include fever, headaches, and muscle aches; however, there is no pneumonia. Symptoms go away on their own without treatment and without causing further problems.
Pontiac Fever and Legionnaires’ disease may also be called “Legionellosis” (LEE-juh-nuh-low-sis) separately or together.

How serious is it? What is the treatment?
Legionnaires' disease can be very serious and can cause death in up to 5% to 30% of cases. Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics [drugs that kill bacteria in the body], and healthy people usually recover from infection.

OSHA Quotes:
It is estimated that in the United States there are between 10,000 and 50,000 cases of Legionnaires' disease each year. Legionnaires' disease is a bacterial disease commonly associated with water-based aerosols that have originated from warm water sources. It is often associated with poorly maintained cooling towers and potable water systems.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pet Food - Mold / Aflatoxin Poisoning

Aflatoxin comes from a fungus found on corn and other crops and can cause severe liver damage in pets. If your pet shows any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
— Sluggishness
— Loss of appetite
— Jaundice (yellow whites of the eyes, gums, belly)
— Severe, persistent vomiting combined with bloody diarrhea
— Fever
Source: Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

In The News

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The FDA reports that at least 76 dogs nationwide are believed to have died as a result of eating contaminated Diamond Pet Foods.
The company has recalled 19 varieties of dog and cat food because tests showed high levels of aflatoxin, a naturally occurring toxic chemical that comes from a fungus found on corn and other grains that causes severe liver damage in animals.

The company recalled products manufactured at its Gaston, S.C., plant from around September to November 2005. Based on sample testing, Diamond has narrowed down the exposure to food produced on Oct. 11, Brinkmann said Thursday.

The FDA and the South Carolina Department of Agriculture have launched investigations.
Customers who have purchased the recalled Diamond Pet Food manufactured in the South Carolina plant should immediately stop using it and return any remaining product to their retailer, according to the FDA.
The range of date codes being reviewed are "Best By 01-March-07" through Best By " 11-June-07".
FDA also has discovered that some of the recalled product was exported to at least 29 countries, including countries within the European Union. These countries have been notified.
Diamond officials say they are doing what they can to help affected pet owners.

Diamond has promised to reimburse pet owners for vet bills and other costs associated with the aflatoxin poisoning, which officials now believe may include pets in Europe and other areas outside the country where the food is distributed.

Personal Note

My wife and I are considered animal lovers. We have worked with the MSPCA for years as foster parents and have adopted several dogs, cats, rabbits and birds. One of quests is to find the best quality dog food possible. We have one dog that suffers from skin allergies. Most of the vets think it is diet related. So far, after 3 years and a dozen different brands of "high quality" and "organic" food, we have not been able to help him. Is this a reflection of the overall quality of dog food? If anyone has suggestions, we would love to hear from you. Send us an email at the following address. service@boston-biosafety.com

Boston Biosafety cares about the health of your pets too!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ozone for the Home - Part 1

OK, people of Boston, do you want to know about ozone? Well, ozone can be used for remediation along with air & water purification. However, it can also be dangerous to your health in the hands of a novice.

What is ozone?

Ozone gas is a molecule which consists of three oxygen molecules. It is naturally occurring in the earth's atmosphere at all levels and is essential to reef keeping. Ozone functions by sterilizing the water and relieving it of unwanted bacteria and microscopic organisms. Ozone is explosive and is harmful to animals and humans in large quantities.


OZONE SCAMMERS
Let's get right into it. One of my long time clients called me a few years ago after he met a salesman at the Boston Home Show selling $400.00 ozone units. These units are sold to be table-top units. He knows that we (Boston-Biosafety) use ozone as part of our arsenal. My client proceeded to recite the sales pitch he received from the salesman. The salesman even offered a free, 3 day in-home trial. I told my client to call the salesman back and get the "in home trial" so we could measure the ozone output. So, a few days later I was at his home with my ozone meter ready to see what $400.00 would buy.

The unit was JUNK. There were no detectable ozone levels outside a radius of a few feet. My ozone meter is very sensitive and had been recently calibrated. Now, let's go over why this is good and bad.

Why is it GOOD that the ozone unit did not produce a lot of ozone?

1. Well, ozone is an oxidizer and WILL irritate your lungs. In higher levels it will damage your lungs. So, the good news is, it won't damage your lungs.


Why is it BAD that the ozone unit did not produce a lot of ozone?

1. Ozone is only effective in higher concentrations. These units do not produce enough ozone to treat a normal size room. Will they remove some odors, yes...worth $400.00...NO.
2. Ozone dissipates quickly, so if the unit does not produce enough, the effective range is limited to the immediate area of the unit. What good is that?

Now, do they work? Depends on your definition of "work".

Worth $400.00? NO

This is not to say some of the units on the market are not good, but don't expect miracles. For the same amount of money, you can buy a very nice HEPA unit with a replacement filter. A good HEPA unit will remove irritants and mold spores from the air and trap them in the filter, Even if the table top ozone unit kills a mold spore, it's still floating in the air and can be an irritant. These ozone units will purify the air that passes through it, but not around it.


Which Ozone Units are Good?

* HVAC - Combination Ozone/UV units are excellent for in-duct HVAC systems. We have units that are over 6 years old in service without any reported problems.

* Hot Tubs - Ozone units are used in hot tubs. There is a lot of documentation touting the health benefits from bathing in ozonated water.

* Swimming Pools - We have converted many chlorine pools to ozone pools in the Boston area and New England. Once the pool is converted to an ozone system, all you have to worry about is the PH level.

* Commercial Laundries - Hotels all over Boston have benefited from converting to ozone.

* Commercial Kitchens - We have installed ozone systems in commercial kitchen in the Boston area. The use of ozonated water to clean fresh produce will kill the bacteria and molds, which extends the lifespan. A lot of our clients use the smaller units at home.

FINALE

Table Top Units - So, to recap. Any small ozone unit you can buy cannot produce sufficient amounts of ozone to be useful. Any large unit will produce too much ozone and can be harmful to your health. Unless you have an ozone meter, how can you measure the amount of ozone?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ozone for the Home - Part 2

As soon as we posted the Ozone for DIY'ers - Part 1 , we received email asking to talk more about the "scammers" out there selling products claiming to treat mold. A few emails asked for specific names of products. I don't want to list names, but I think you will see a pattern which will help you decide for yourself.

How can you tell if you may be dealing with a scammer?

Well, anyone promising you something too good to be true is a good sign.

Off the top off my head I can think of three questionable products out there. All three of these products are sold by individuals that seem to be involved with pyramid selling, like AMWAY (multi-level marketing). The salespeople will not only sell you a unit, but try to recruit you into selling them. Some just want to sell you a product.

Most of them will have business cards with a "code number" on it, or a website offshoot dedicated with their name at the end, example www.scammerozone.com/johndoe

Below is an edited copy of an email I received from one of these guys. He was trying to suck me in.

What bothers me most is that his emails were based on ways to make money off clients instead of helping them. Finding the cause of the mold spores is the real issue.

I am a mold inspector. biocide applicator but I want to introduce you to something that can add a lot of revenue to your business. This is state of the art technology and should go with every inspection and remediation. We are in positions to benefit greatly while providing the customer something that they can't get from every other remediator and or CBA or inspector. If you are serious about growing your business rapidly (though I am sure you have plenty of works ) give me a call, I would like to talk to you about this. I am not interested in selling you anything. I want to sell you on the technology and we will both benefit greatly. Imagine being able to tell the customer that you can offer them something that will kill 99.7% of all mold, bacteria, and fungus on all the surfaces in their house but it isn't a biocide.
603-XXX-1888

Indoor air quality isn't good quality without this, no matter how good a remediator you are.

After I replied, no thank you - Next Email from Art F.

I am an independant XXXquest representitive and the point is we are the best in air purification so while you scrub the air and kill the surface , you can offer a unit to your customer as a garauntee that should spores be present in their homes ever again they will not be able to colonize. HEPA units for home use are worthless, I plan on getting into remediation but I sell these units after a sanitization because if there is something in the wall growing that I don't know about this unit will neutralize the mycotoxins. It does have a low level ozone output but it uses a jacked up version of photo catalytic oxidation to purify the entire air space. It is RCI radiant catalytic Ionization. The technology is certified by the space foundation as the only space certified air unit in the world. It has a dc ionizer , rf ionizer and I can't remember the other one put reduces 99.7% of all particulates in the air and the ozone can be turned up to 300mgh for odor problems. Essentially it replicates the way nature purifys itself but 40% faster than ozone alone. It is what NASA uses to purify the air on the space station and what the pentagon used on 9-11. Plus the chinese cdc has found the technology as effective in cleaning the air in a building during a biological weapon attack. It has been tested on the avain flu by Kansas state University and killed 199,000 infected cells in under 12 hours. They also tested in on EColi, strep and several others including the common cold. Air purifyers as a whole don't work. I know air changers fall into a different category, I have a 700cfm unit but this is for everyday use. You can rub an onion on your hand and put it in front of the machine for 90 sec and the smell is completely gone. A lrge ammount of NORMI members and others in the mold business have found this to be a lucrative income in addition to an already great business. Basically it uses a UVX light which is both UVB and UVC wrapped in a honeycomb matrix made up of Titainium Dioxid, silver, copper , and Rhobidium and it creates Suer oxides both hydro peroxides and p[eroxides that attack microbes in your whole air space. The difference is when the super oxides are already there and something isd introduced into the environment the problem is quickly attacked and dealt with minus having to wait for air to be filtered like other systems which is impossible. XXXquest was featured 2x this yr in success from home magazines as one of the greatest home business opportunities in existence and by Healthier you magazing for their superior technology. They have no competition because no other system can even come close to qualify.

I could write a few pages, picking apart these emails, but I wasted enough space just posting the emails. (BTW, I left the spelling mistakes in his emails on purpose.)

Here is the scoop. If you have mold in your house, it is the because something happened to let it grow. Even if you kill the spores in the air, you still have mold somewhere producing these spores.

Just let it be known that there are people out there that make claims that don't add up.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Fungal Etiology of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Courtesy of David A. Holland, M.D.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, although distinguished by well-known characteristics, are collectively known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). IBD is characterized by a host of symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, rectal bleeding, weight loss, fever, and a host of extra-intestinal symptoms, including disorders of the eyes, liver, gallbladder, muscles and joints, kidneys, and skin.1

The treatments usually focus on relief of symptoms with anti-inflammatory drugs or surgery (i.e. removal of the affected part of the intestines).

The cause of IBD remains "unknown."

Some have implicated a viral etiology to IBD. In the medical journal The Lancet,2 Dr. Wakefield and colleagues found that three of four offspring in mothers that had measles during pregnancy developed severe Crohn’s later in life. Of note is that recurrent antibiotic-resistant pneumonia preceded the Crohn’s in every case.

This is important because antibiotics are known to increase the risk of fungal infection.3 Another study highlights this fact: an eight-year-old girl who was treated with antibiotics for recurrent upper respiratory tract infections developed intestinal candidiasis, an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans, in the gut.4

Other scientists have found carbohydrates to be a possible culprit. Two of three worldwide studies found the average intake of carbohydrates (including bread, potatoes, and refined sugars) to be much greater in those who developed IBD than in those who did not.4 Why would carbohydrates be implicated as a cause? Could it be that they are commonly contaminated with fungal toxins, according to a 2002 JAMA article and numerous agricultural publications, including the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology? 6, 7

In her book, "Breaking the Vicious Cycle," Elaine Gottschall describes the cycle of intestinal mucosal injury, impaired digestion, malabsorption, bacterial overgrowth, and increase in bacterial by-products and mucous production, which lead back to intestinal mucosal injury. We all know that antibiotics can alter the normal intestinal flora or bacteria. These bacteria usually keep in check the relatively small amount of existing yeast in the intestines.

However, when antibiotics are taken for various purposes--and you can bet those kids in Dr. Wakefield’s study were given plenty of antibiotics--the normal, protective bacteria are eliminated, and yeast growth goes unchecked. The resulting effects range from "mild diarrhea to severe colitis, or systemic fungal or bacterial dissemination."8 In Chapter 2 of our book, "The Fungus Link," you read about the link between arthritis and fungus.

When fungi become systemic from gut inflammation and the overuse of antibiotics, you can see how the whole body--again, the eyes, liver, gallbladder, muscles and joints, kidneys, and skin--becomes involved in inflammatory bowel disease.

Scientists have directly implicated yeast and fungal toxins, called mycotoxins, in the cause of Crohn’s disease.

Former World Health Organization expert Dr. A.V. Costantini has found that people with Crohn’s often have aflatoxin, a mycotoxin made by Aspergillus molds, in their blood. Barclay found that disease activity in patients with Crohn’s was lower while they followed a yeast-free diet, specifically avoiding baker’s and brewer’s yeasts.9

Some feel that the yeast, Candida albicans, may be the cause of Celiac disease, also known as Sprue, or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.10 Celiac disease, doctors presume, is caused by a reaction to a protein particle called gluten that exists in certain grains.

This allergic-type reaction leads to inflammation and often severe symptoms in not only the intestines but also the entire body.

Conventional treatment therefore involves suppressing the inflammation and symptoms with anti-inflammatory medications. It also requires the avoidance of these particular grains. Ironically, corn is a grain that does not contain gluten. It therefore falls in the "okay to eat" list offered by conventional practitioners and dieticians. Little do most practitioners know that corn is universally contaminated with mycotoxins.

So, over-consuming corn, as so many Celiac patients do since they have few other choices of grains in their diet, is likely to propagate the illness. Many people have successfully treated (dare we say cured?) their Celiac disease by not only avoiding grains altogether--especially corn--but also including antifungal medications in their treatment regimen. Such antifungals may include the natural, coconut-derived fatty acid known as Caprylic acid (available over the counter), or stronger, prescriptive antifungals. These stronger medicines might consist of a combination of nystatin (a broad spectrum gut antifungal) and either itraconazole (Sporanox®) or fluconazole (Diflucan®).

Chapter 13 of "Principles and Practice of Clinical Mycology" deals entirely with fungal infections in the gut. They describe how Blastomyces dermatitidis, a fungus, can produce "granulomatous" lesions in the intestines.

Not surprisingly, this same type of lesion has also been seen in patients with Crohn’s disease. Another fungus called Histoplasma produces intestinal disease with symptoms such as diarrhea, weight loss, fever, and abdominal pain--sound familiar? The common lesions seen in the gut with this infection were "masses or ulcers mimicking inflammatory bowel disease or carcinoma." The authors concluded that histoplasmosis should be a "serious consideration" in an immunocompromised patient with signs and symptoms of IBD.11

Back to the big word "immunocompromised," which means the immune system has been compromised, or weakened. We strongly disagree that you must have cancer or AIDS or be on chemotherapy to have a weakened immune system. Just smell the air on your way to work or look at our standard American diet (SAD), or even look at the number of antibiotics we consume from childhood on. Could these be impeding our immune systems? Most antibiotics are mycotoxins--fungal derivatives.

Mycotoxins are commonly found in our grain food supply. Mycotoxins can suppress our normal immune function. Therefore, anyone who has taken an antibiotic or consumes grains or sugar qualifies as a potentially immunocompromised person.
We’ve seen thus far that, in just about every case of inflammatory bowel disease, conventional treatment involves the use of anti-inflammatories. Well, researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis took a bold step and did a study where they offered patients with Crohn’s disease an immune stimulant instead.12 They used a medicine called Leukine--a naturally-occuring molecule called Granulocyte-Macrophage Colony Stimulating Factor (GM-CSF).

And though they faced harsh criticism from scientists at other universities for doing this, they obtained amazing results: of the initial 15 patients in the study, 12 did "significantly" better overall, while eight went into complete remission! Every one of the half a million patients with Crohn’s disease in America should know about this study.
But they shouldn’t feel they need to rush in to their doctor’s office to get this expensive shot (it costs around $300 per milliliter--that’s $1,500 per teaspoon).
Rather, they should learn from this study: by giving an immune booster, these doctors were able to put 53 percent of the cases into total remission. That almost implies that an infection is at the root of the disease, and that by assisting the body’s immune system the medication helped the body overcome the "infection," or the disease.

Typically, an anti-inflammatory medicine merely controls the symptoms of the disease--it doesn’t cure it. That’s because it rarely addresses the true cause of the disease. In other words, if the wrong diet is constantly consumed, or if damage (i.e. yeast overgrowth) is never reversed from previous antibiotic use, a cure can almost never be achieved. In this case, we feel that the "infection" in the intestines of Crohn’s patients is caused by fungi and their mycotoxins.
Incidentally, you can boost your immune system much less expensively and without a prescription by taking beta-glucans (see seagateproducts.com or nsc24.com). Using probiotics--Lactobacillus acidophilus, etc. (see natren.com)--is also extremely vital in reversing antibiotic damage, since these good bacteria can keep yeast and fungi from re-establishing themselves in the intestines.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease knows the misery these diseases can cause. Given the alternatives for treatment--more immune-suppressing drugs and surgery--we think it would be worth a trial on a program that includes a low-carb diet and antifungal medications or supplements. A 1944 Johns Hopkins Clinical Mycology book stressed the importance of following a low-carb diet while treating yeasts.13 If a fungus or mycotoxin is truly involved, all of these approaches will do more than just suppress the symptoms of or "manage" the disease--they can actually cure it.

References:
Journal of Musculoskeletal Medicine. Nov. 1996. Pp 28-34.
Wakefield. The Lancet. 1996. 348:315-317.
Baldwin, Richard S. The Fungus Fighters: Two Women Scientists and Their Discovery Cornell University Press. Ithaca and London. 1981.
Ruiz-Sanchez, et al. Intestinal candidiasis. A clinical report and comments about this opportunistic pathogen. Mycopathologia. 2002;156(1):9-11.
Heaton, K. W. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Allan, R.N., Keighley, M.R.B., Alexander-Williams, J., and Hawkins, C.F. [Eds.]. Churchill Livingstone, New York. 1990
Etzel, R. Mycotoxins. Journal of the American Medical Association. 287(4). Jan 23/30, 2002.
Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. Mycotoxins: Risks in Plant, Animal and Human Sytems. Economic and Health Risks. Task Force Report Number 139. Jan 2003. CAST. Ames, IA.
Saadia, Roger and Lipman, Jeffrey. "Antibiotics and the gut". European Journal of Surgery. 1996. Suppl. 576:39-41.
Barclay, G. R., et. al. (Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology. 1992. 27:196-200.
Nieuwenhuizen, W., et al. Is Candida albicans a trigger in the onset of celiac disease? Lancet. 2003 June 21;361(9375):2152-2154.
Kibbler, C. C., et. al [Ed.]. Principles and Practice of Clinical Mycology 1996. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., West Sussex, England
Hesman, T. WU Researchers have developed controversial Crohn’s treatment. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Nov 8, 2002. http://aisweb.wustl.edu/alumni/atwu.nsf/srohns.
Conant, et al. Manual of Clinical Mycology. WB Saunders, Philadelphia. 1944.