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Blog posts of '2013' 'February'

Hurricane recovery and the added dangers of black mold

In the short time that Hurricane Sandy flooded out many of the homes along the east coast. Sandy survivors were confronted with a multitude of serious issues such as low temperatures, damage to their homes and many other obstacles that is making recovery efforts a major uphill battle. One major issue many of them are being forced to contend with is rapid mold growth in their homes.

The health department states that they are closely monitoring emergency room visits and the hospitalization of those who are suffering respiratory illnesses as a key to determine if the threat of mold infestation is serious enough to warrant aggressive recovery action but is willing to admit there are no set guidelines to follow in the case of evacuating a region hard hit by mold infestation.

It’s important to understand mold reproduction starts when mature mold growth releases spores into the atmosphere. These spores are suspended in the air and are a part of the natural are we breathe on a daily basis and are the common cause of many of the allergies. Local weather stations will often include a mold count on their daily broadcast. The higher the number, the more likely there will be allergy sufferers.

Removing mold spores from any structure is almost impossible to control since the air outside will always find a way to get inside. Air conditioning filters and air purifiers can dramatically reduce the mold count in the environment; however it is almost impossible to completely be mold free.

The big problems with mold inside a building begin with water. Any area inside a structure that is always damp or has standing water is a prime setting for mold spores to collect and proliferate. Once mold spores locate a water source they will settle in and begin to grow. Mold growth can be very rapid in prime conditions therefore it is important at this stage to remove the mold infestation and dry out the infected area and most importantly, remove or bring under control the source of water that allowed the mold to grow. Without removing the source of water, mold will most certainly return.

Since last year, there are about 75,000 scientifically identifiable species of mold with a projection that there may be as many as 1 million fungal species that have yet to be identified. Not all mold species are harmful. Some are even beneficial such as those varieties that produce truffles and the various types that produce edible mushrooms. There is even a species of mold that has been proven capable of devouring toxic petroleum products and leaving behind a completely safe, environmentally friendly growth in its place. It use is currently being considered as a go to answer for cleaning oil spills. Some companies are even looking at mold to produce products such as toilet paper. Go figure.

Identification of a mold species is mostly dependent on costly DNA testing. AdVnt Biotechnologies as developed a black mold test that uses the genetic identifiers of black mold species to help identify toxic black mold from most common mold infestations. The INFORMANT 15-minute black mold test uses licensed antibodies to positively tag black mold spores for positive identification, therefore making sure that it does not show a positive result for more common mold varieties.

Toxic black mold is a species of mold, that if allowed to proliferate can produce a toxic substance known as mycotoxin. It is this substance derived from black mold growth that has been shown to be fatal to humans, especially those who suffer with compromised immune systems. There are to date, 3 known species that are known to produce this toxicity and can become a serious health hazard if left unchecked. Stachybotrys, Aspergillius and its close cousin Penicillium are the three species known to produce mycotoxins. The second requirement for mold growth is oxygen. Where conditions for mold growth are ripe, mycotoxins are produced as the mold expands and spreads into colonies releasing the toxic byproduct into the air. It is import to understand that mycotoxins as a result of growth of black mold is viewed differently than those cases of mycotoxins exposure that causes harm through the ingestion of misidentified mushrooms. In the case of toxicity to humans through mold growth, the victim is often not aware of the hazard until it causes some harm.

AdVnt Biotechnologies INFORMANT 15-Minute black mold detection test was specifically designed to test mold growth found in homes for this highly dangerous species. Each test kit with the items required to run two complete tests. The easy to follow step by step instruction sheet allows users to quickly identify if the mold growth in their homes is of the toxic variety. Waiting days for lab results is now a thing of the past. The INFORMANT 15-Minute black mold detection test can be purchased from our website at www.advnt.org. The INFORMANT Black Mold Detection Test is not available in stores.

The serious issues of black mold growth in the regions hit by hurricane Sandy are not ones to be taken with a grain of salt. Identifying and removing mold infestations are often tied in with a homeowners struggle to obtain the necessary funding in order to properly eradicate the infestation. The longer it takes for relief funding the more serious the situation can become. Complicated paperwork to get federal relief and slow moving insurers and politicians on the take is just a few of the many hurdles the victims of this tragic event will have to face in order to win back their homes and their peace of mind.

After ten years anthrax is still a threat

 

 

Despite the passage of ten years, the threat of an anthrax, or similar attempt of bioterrorism still looms large over the United States. Stringent security measures are in place to scan the US mail systems. Since September 2001 when these bioterrorism attacks started, the postal authorities have responded to around 52,000 calls concerning suspicious mails. The US Postal Inspectors office has implemented the best detection technologies available in today’s marketplace. One of the threat detectors used by the US Postal Inspectors Office is Advnt’s Pro Strip Rapid Detection System.

The US authorities are making no compromise over such threats and anyone taking it light has to face imprisonment under the same charges. Likewise Jay Stuart DeVaughn, who wrote 26 letters to President Obama and others inscribed with “Take a whiff of this”, landed him in jail for six-year imprisonment. Again, Advnt’s Pro Strip is a product utilized by the US Secret Service, due to it’s unique operating capabilities, the ease of use, sensitivity and specificity make it a must have for “pointy-end-of-the-sword” assets that guard the most prized targets.

Though the white powder inside the letters later proved to be a coffee sweetener and no one was harmed, the event raised suspicions of being an Anthrax-like attack, of which now hundreds occur every year in this country. In 2001-02, the multiple attacks of anthrax delivered in letters killed fifteen people and injured many others and illuminated the inherent security weaknesses of the mail industry.

Most American’s have forgotten the entire issue. Perhaps incidents like that of DeVaughn may help bring the anthrax and bioterrorism case back into the news. I’ve found that the US media purposefully does not report about the hundreds of false threats that occur each year in America.

As per revised security parameters, the postal system now depends on both manual checks as well as machine screenings. The postal inspectors receive multiple calls daily on postal security with the majority of them being false alarms. Regardless, such calls show that anthrax threats are still at the top of the preparedness chain requiring utilization of state-of-the-art, instantaneous bio-threat screening systems like Advnt’s Pro Strip Rapid Screening System.

Historically anthrax has been used as a deadly weapon for centuries. Biological and chemical agents have been used throughout history. Individuals, as well as organized groups, use these naturally occurring agents to attempt murder. Just 60 years ago a woman was arrested in 1952 after she mailed a box full of cyanide-laced Bon Caramels to her estranged husband who was doubtful of it and called the legal authorities.

Another horrid mail related crime involved Theodore Kaczynski who killed three people and injured 23 over 15 years by sending mail bombs. He was finally arrested in the mid 90’s. A few years ago, inspectors arrested a West Virginia man for mailing an improvised explosive device to a former neighbor in Minnesota. He’s serving 2½ years in prison.

Bottom line appears to be that living in an open and free society is fraught with many security leaks. Organized groups and sick individuals will always have ample opportunity to strike with deadly agents to attempt pre-meditated murder on an individual or communities of people who are un-suspecting of the threat.