Strong smell after sanding the floor

strong odor form cresols

Renovating a house from the 1960s

A young family in Thuringia (Germany), full of enthusiasm, renovated a house from the 1960s. They wanted to keep the floorboards on the first floor and started sanding off the top layer. But after a short time the Stickler family was very sober. During the work it started to stink terribly. Ms. Stickler also worried about her child’s health. A building biologist should investigate the process to find the reason for the unpleasant smell. The expert sampled the room air using the TENAX method (2 liters of air at a volume flow of 100 milliliters per minute). As a precaution, he took a material sample from the flooring.
Continue reading

Tar cardboard containing PAH caused odor problems and headaches

naphtalene found in the air of two classrooms

Naphtalene found in the air of two classrooms

Measurement results showed a pollution with naphthalene

In a primary school in Saxony (Germany), odor problems had arisen in two classrooms and in the staff room since the building was renovated. When a new rector took office in 2018, the matter really got going. Ms. Rubens (name changed) not only had a sensitive nose, but increasingly complained of a headache as soon as she was in the staff room. The school administration informed the city administration as the responsible cost bearer. The local building authority then commissioned an engineering office to investigate the indoor air. The measurement results showed a clear pollution of the room air with naphthalene. Since even the guideline II of the German Federal Environment Agency was exceeded with 20 µg / m³, no lessons were allowed to take place in the rooms from now on. A review of the construction plans showed that the school was built in 1964. Therefore, the experts consulted assumed that the building was contaminated. The energetic renovation in 2017 had obviously exacerbated the smell problem. The airtight facade and the lack of controlled ventilation ensured that the pollutants in the indoor air could accumulate more.
Continue reading

Too many pollutants in the carpets

Carpets may contain toxins

Carpets may contain toxins

People love their carpets – 1.8 million tonnes are sold in Europe year after year. This is also the second largest carpet market next to the USA. The market leader today is Tarkett in France, followed by the Balta Group from Belgium. The production of a carpet takes place in several production steps. Each of the work stages uses a wide range of chemicals. The toxins contained therein later exhale into the room air or they are inhaled by the inhabitants as dust particles. Toxic chemicals are also the main obstacle to environmentally sound disposal. That’s why 1.6 million tons land in the waste incineration plant every year.
Continue reading

A bright screen reduces the flicker effect

building biologist measures light quality

Building biologist measures lightquality of a computer screen

Building biologist Jens Rudloff (Germany) regularly measures the light quality of his computer screen with a professional measuring device. The “Eco-Mode” of the LED monitor from Fujitsu has a brightness level of 55. For comparison, Rudloff sets the brightness level to 95 and measures whether there are any differences in terms of flicker or blue light for the user. In addition to the light from the ceiling light, the building biologist adds a bright halogen desk lamp during the experiment. As usual in building biology, he uses natural sunlight as a guideline.
Continue reading

Molds endanger people with weakened immune systems

The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus blocks messenger substances in the immune system

For healthy people, mold spores in the indoor air are normally no problem, since the pathogens are successfully controlled by the immune system. For certain groups, however, caution is required. The guideline of the Scientific Medical Societies (AWMF) includes people with a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy, stem cell transplants or HIV infections. Other risk groups include people with cystic fibrosis and bronchial asthma. The German Robert Koch Institute (RKI) divides the symptoms of immunosuppression into three groups and speaks of moderate, severe and very severe immunosuppression. In a recent study, scientists from the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany) have now found out in what way the mold can turn off the immune system.
Continue reading

Power line too close to the house

power line magnetic fields

Young family is looking for a property

Iris Graustein (Germany) has been looking for months a residential building in the suburban area. Finally, the broker reports with a financially appropriate offer. After inspecting the property Iris is in doubt. Because at a distance of ten meters leads a power line with two conductors to garden and house over. The utility company tells the family that it is a 20 kilovolt line. Contradictory information about magnetic fields near power lines can be found on the Internet. Even the called building biologist can not provide remote diagnosis. On the one hand, a much lower current flow is to be expected with the 20 kV line than with a large 380 kV line; On the other hand, the cables are very close to the house. The building biologist advises a long-term measurement over 24 hours to obtain certainty about the magnitude of the magnetic field in the apartment.
Continue reading

PCB still causes concern

school building in GermanyIn mid-June 2018 press and television in Germany reported a request from the Left Party regarding a redevelopment concept for public buildings in the Saarland (Germany). The state government admitted that not all of these buildings had been systematically examined for PCB contamination. “The current building stock is not under general PCB suspicion,” says the state government and adds that there is no fundamental obligation for exploration PCB. “However, if refurbishment measures are planned for day care centers, precautionary measures will be carried out in the affected areas on the joints filled with PCBs”. Jochen Flackus, the parliamentary managing director of the Left Party, calls on the state government to develop a concept for the rehabilitation of PCB-contaminated buildings. Flackus points out that until around the 1980s, around 20,000 tons of PCB had been used as sealants in schools, kindergartens and other public buildings throughout Germany.
Continue reading

In doubt to the company doctor

Mold fungus aspergillus niger

Mold fungus aspergillus niger

Another case from practice. An employee of an industrial company complained about health problems that he thought could be related to a mold in the operating rooms. The technical director of the company took the process seriously and commissioned the building biologist Oliver Zenkel with a room air examination. Culture media and particle collectors were sampled in two indoor and outdoor areas and then sent to a special laboratory for mycological examinations. After fourteen days, the lab report came and showed mushroom species that normally have no place in the room air. Particularly striking were some groups of the mold fungus species “aspergillus”. On the basis of this laboratory finding, the building biologist suspects an invisible mold source in the operating rooms.
Continue reading

The pitfalls of charging electric cars

An electric car is currently charging

An electric car is currently charging

According to the federal government, one million electric cars should be rolling on Germany’s roads as early as 2020. “Basically, we can be happy that the development is now slower than expected,” says master electrician Bernd Zeilmann as a representative of the Chamber of Crafts Bayreuth (Germany). “The charging process as a bottleneck”, said Zeilmann in a public lecture at the invitation of the nature conservation associations and the car-sharing association. On the one hand, the public charging stations are still being built up and the billing arrangements are not yet certified; on the other hand, the batteries are not easily recharged overnight at home. These include preparatory measures for upgrading the electrical installation and a safety concept. “When more than ten amps are drawn from a simple power outlet over several hours, the cable gets hot and in the worst case can ignite a fire,” said the master electrician.
Continue reading

TETRA radio waves should reach into the cellar

tetra radio wavesThe fire protection authority has recently visited the managers of high-rise buildings or communal buildings more frequently. The fire brigade wants to ensure that the recently introduced digital mobile radio technology TETRA provides consistent reception within the building. As proof the authority wants to have measurements of the field strength of certified engineering offices. If the continuous wireless connection is not confirmed, the owner must provide signal amplification. The central authority for digital radio BOS (Germany) issues a guideline for the planning and realization of object supply. At country level, the guideline is made even more concrete.
Continue reading