Author Archives: joachim-w

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Carbon monoxide detector as life insurance

carbon monoxid detector

Use high-quality devices to measure CO

The German Medical Journal reports 3,700 cases of poisoning with carbon monoxide (CO) per year, around ten percent of which end in death. Flue gases from poorly burning stoves or gas water heaters are still at the top of the polluter. But also in pellet storage rooms or shisha bars carbon monoxide accumulates in a dangerous concentration. When the urgently needed oxygen supply has to be done, a small electronic device can indicate. However, it is advisable to study the technical data carefully before buying CO detectors. Because the cheaper the device, the longer the response time. With high-quality devices, the response time is less than a minute; with low-cost solutions, it can take up to ten minutes before the warning is given. For users also to note: CO warning detectors must be additionally installed, because the “normal” smoke detector can not fulfill this function.
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Home buyer discovered the real house sponge after purchase

Serpula Lacrymans

The fungus can remain invisible for a long time

An unpredictable journeyman

The “real house sponge” (Serpula lacrymans) behaves as an unpredictable journeyman. Even in cases where he already seemed successful, he can turn up again. Already two hundred years ago there were extensive treatises on the life, occurrence and the destructive action of this fungus. It can grow even at a relatively low level of wood moisture and even attack almost dry wood when it is simultaneously settled in a different area with higher humidity. With the aid of its strand mycelium or the so-called strands, the real house sponge can spread over long stretches, thereby also wood-free substances overgrown many meters. No wonder every builder shrugs when the real house sponge is mentioned.
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Five drill holes for a thousand dollars

hole in the wall, which is freshly drilled

Hole in the wall, which is freshly drilled

The building-biologist Oliver Zenkel looks surprised at the holes in the wall, which are freshly drilled a few centimeters above the base of the sock. Together with Susanne Planer he stands in the living room of the customer. She had called the expert, because there was mold in several places in the wall corners. Mr. Zenkel should carry out a collection of air germs and then have the culture media examined in the laboratory. In the course of the sampling the customer told how the holes in the wall had come. “Over a thousand dollars would have cost this action,” says Mrs. Planer.
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