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Moulds and indoor climate in Denmark
2003 - IRG/WP 03-10488
Just like in many other countries after the oil crisis in 1972 Danish houses were tightened with the result that the relative air humidity rose considerably. The Ministry of Energy also demanded a lowering of the indoor temperature from 25°C to 20°C with the result that the relative air humidity rose even more. According to the latest survey 10% of Danish buildings are infected with moulds. Moulds occur in the indoor environment e.g. when humid air condensates on cold outer walls or in connection with water damage which is insufficiently dried out. In our analyses we always try to determine moulds both to genus and species. During our surveys in August 2001 and February 2002 we found 50 different species of moulds in Danish houses. The species Penicillium chrysogenum was dominating in both spring and autumn. Aspergillus versicolor was also present in spring and autumn but in smaller numbers. Cladosporium herbarum was most common during autumn. Stachybotrys chartarum was rather rare, maybe because it is closely connected to gypsum boards. It is very important to identify the moulds to species which is shown by the following case study. In a house where the sewer had been punctured in connection with establishment of district heating, 150 cubic metres of water had poured into the crawl space. We were called in by the occupant because she felt ill and there was a strong mouldy smell. We immediately asked her to move, with the result that her health improved almost instantly. She was so sensible that even the delivery of mail in her mailbox made her ill. A blood-test showed that she was sensitised to Trichoderma viride and Penicillium chrysogenum. The latter was found in large amounts in her house. We know that it is now possible to repair the house so that non-sensitised persons will be able to live there, but not the former occupant who will react to even small traces of allergen which are still there. After the repair we have different methods of quality control. It is now evident that some remedies and methods will kill the spores others the mycelium and yet others both. Some methods have a lasting effect, others do not. Our methods of quality control are either contact-samples with Petri dishes where mould colonies are counted and identified to species or a test for ATP or the Mycometer-test where the enzyme β-N-acetylhexosaminidase specific to fungi is measured. The Petri dish method measures the number of living spores, while the two other methods measure the amount of mycelium. However it seems that ATP in the mycelium is broken down faster than the enzyme measured by the Mycometer-test. Therefore it becomes difficult to decide whether the mycelium is living, partly dead or completely dead, when the repair work is going to be approved.
J Bech-Andersen, S A Elborne


Investigation of microwave as a means of eradicating dry rot attack in buildings
1992 - IRG/WP 92-1545
A microwave-apparatus developed for treatment of building-structures infested by dry rot was tested in the laboratory. The test-conditions simulated treatment of either infested timber or infested brickwork. Sawdust samples, both wet and dry, infested by viable mycelium of Serpula lacrymans were packed in glass-tubes. The tubes were then placed in the middle of either 20 cm thick wooden beams or 35 cm brickwork. The temperature during microwave-treatment was measured both in the tubes using toluene thermometers and in the "construction" using thermo-couples of the copper-constantine-type. The viability after treatment was tested by growth-ability on malt-agar, by ATP-content and by nucleus-staining. The lethal temperature with this specific apparatus was 37-39°C in brickwork and 40-50°C in wood. In comparison with more conventional methods of heat transfer microwaves seem to be more efficient. The variation in temperature within the treated area was undesirably high and in situ treatment above lethal temperature with this specific apparatus would lead to an unacceptably high risk of damage.
C Kjerulf-Jensen, A P Koch


ATP assay for the determination of mould activity on wood at different moisture conditions
1992 - IRG/WP 92-2397
To determine fungal responses to fungicides and environmental conditions and for detection of microbial activity in wood, sensitive and objective methods are needed. We have developed a suitable assay based on analysis of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by using the luciferin-luciferase reaction. With the aid of this assay the activity of Penicillium brevicompactum on wood at different RH levels was studied. The ATP content in a two week old culture responded quite rapidly to changes in humidity. The ATP content in the colony moved to 70% or lower RH for one week was 10 times lower than the ATP content in the colony kept at 100% relative humidity for the same time period. Increasing the humidity level to 100% RH one week before the ATP determination from a period at lower humidities did not result in a significant increase in the ATP content. This probably indicates that the mycelia of the fungus did not survive the low humidity treatment.
J Bjurman


Experiences from a Danish large scale test by means of a new method of treatment by attack of true dry rot fungus (Serpula lacrymans) in buildings
1994 - IRG/WP 94-10064
Experiences from a new and epoch-making method of treatment in connection with the repair of attack of the true dry rot fungus, Serpula lacrymans (Fr.) S.F. Gray, are described. The paper presents the background of a large scale test comprising repair of more than 150 Danish buildings over a period of approximate 5 years. The method being both gentle to the building and presenting savings of at least 70% compared with the traditionally known repairing methods is based on thorough recording of the extent of attack and examination of the vitality of the fungal attack combined with a changed chemical and constructive treatment including treatment by means of a newly developed heat treatment based on high frequency radio waves. Continuous controls have confirmed the applicability in practice of the method. Beyond the method, the paper discusses the consequences as regards security, possibilities of insurance and obtaining a mortgage loan.
O Munck, H Sundberg


Characterisations of the mode of action(s) of Methylene bisthiocyanate (MBT) in Ophiostoma floccosum
2005 - IRG/WP 05-10554
Potassium (K+) leakage, oxygen consumption, glucose depletion and level of ATP formation were determined to elucidate the potential target site(s) of MBT on the sapstain fungus O. floccosum. Treatment of O. floccosum with MBT caused an efflux of intracellular K+ ions from the cells, and the rate of leakage increased with increasing MBT concentrations up to a certain value. This observation suggests that a primary site of action of MBT occurs at the plasma membrane level. The study also showed that there was no inhibition of respiratory activity at lower concentrations of MBT (0.01mM and 0.1mM), but at these lower concentrations, glucose consumption and ATP formation were affected. The inability of O. floccosum to actively metabolise sugar and produce energy indicated that MBT is acting as an energy uncoupler.
T Singh, B Kreber, A Stewart, M Jaspers