Author Archives: joachim-w

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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Nanoparticles sneak into our lives

Nanoparticles

nanoparticles sneak into our lives

Almost unnoticed, nanoparticles sneak into our lives. Whether in the form of rinsing aid in ready-to-use soups or in the dining salt, as a sun protection factor in sun protection creams or as additives for scratch-resistant surfaces, the tiny particles are useful in the eyes of the industry for the improvement of the products. The consumer usually does not know where nano is in it. For the time being, only food, cosmetics and biocides are subject to identification, but only if the nanoparticles of all particles are at least 50%. The Federation of Nature Conservation Germany (BUND) maintains a database with nanotechnical products and some further links to the content description and the purpose of the nano application.
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The role of gender in the case of fogging

Excessive use of candles and tea lights

excessive use of candles

A woman lights a lot of candles

Fogging is understood as ghosting black dust deposits, which can partly occur overnight in apartments. The oily, greasy deposits on walls and furniture can only be cleaned with great effort. Diploma chemist Martin Wesselmann from Hamburg sees a gender-specific problem group among those affected. In 62% of the households surveyed by Wesselmann lived women and in 33% couples or families. Only 5% were pure male households. The excessive use of candles and tea lights is the main cause of black dust. The gender-specific allocation of causes is based on 132 dwellings.
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Search for low-volatile organic compounds

wooden staircase

massive wooden staircase raises suspicion

Benjamin Kramer is looking at his dream house for the second time. A generously cut single-family house from the seventies, solidly built with brickwork and reinforced concrete ceilings. There is not much to complain about. Only the wood in the living and floor area worries him. A massive dark wooden staircase and several ceiling tiles are immediately visible. The attendant expert is feeling the discomfort. After the end of the tour, he therefore proposes that a precautionary analysis of house dust be initiated. Continue reading