Not according to a study by French scientists in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Environmental Monitoring. They report that almost one in five rooms studied with no visible mould was in fact “highly contaminated” by fungus which could aggravate conditions such as asthma.
The study also found that bedrooms and living rooms were no less contaminated than bathrooms and kitchens – “hidden” fungus was not only airborne but found in carpets and soft furnishings, and behind wallpaper, and was often colourless and odourless.
When assessing a building’s level of contamination, many authorities rely on trained investigators to see or smell the fungus – Sandrine Roussel, lead author of the article, and collaborators say this is not enough. By completing questionnaires and sampling the air in hundreds of homes in France, they found that what you see is not always what you get.
“Nowadays, no one would agree to live in housing which presents any risks towards lead or carbon monoxide. Tomorrow, moulds and other chemical substances will probably follow,” says Roussel.
Mould in the home is not just unsightly and indicative of poor hygiene standards; it is known to aggravate a range of medical conditions, such as asthma, rhinitis and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This study set out to establish if more could be done to identify fungus as exacerbating these complaints.
Surprisingly, the study found that factors commonly held to increase mould contamination had relatively little effect. The age of the building, presence of pets and even outdoor and indoor temperature had little bearing on fungus concentration.
As for airborne fungi, it made little or no difference if the room was regularly used to dry clothes, or contained indoor plants – factors that public health inspectors had previously highlighted as key issues.
The researchers found that significant factors in levels of contamination were structure, such as lack of ventilation or a ground floor apartment, or accidental damage, such as water damage.
Jon Edwards | alfa
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Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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