mold forms on cords, knobs, and tool handles

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On Thu, 7 Mar 2013 18:34:52 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

Scrape off some with a knife. Put the scrapings on a tea spoon, spatula, or metal something. Heat over a low flame. The melting point of acrylic is 320F (160C). Monitor the temp with an IR thermometer. If it melts and is kinda rubbery when warm, it's plastic. If it burns, it might be mold.
Your screwdriver shows a finer pattern of plastic rot than my hex wrench. It looks similar but may be a slightly different plastic type (presumed to be acrylic). I can't tell from here.
If you feel ambitious, scrape off a sample, and mail it to me (address below is my office) and I'll put it under the microscope and post a photo. Be careful with the packaging so the USPS doesn't think it's Anthrax or cocaine.
Any hint as to the manufacturer of the screwdriver?
I'm still not 100.0% sure about the white stuff. For example, what's this? <http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-10937245/stock-photo-home-made-dry-wurst-with-thin-coating-of-white-mold.html
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On Thu, 07 Mar 2013 11:57:54 -0800, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

Hi Jeff,
They're all Craftsman screwdrivers, all bought in the 1980s from Sears. The 3 I have with the white stuff were used when I worked in a hospital fixing biomed equipment.
I'll get it to you; I can drive to your office also. It would be worth the trip just to put this decades-old mystery to rest.
We could also try the Myth-Busters up in San Francisco, but this might not have the cachet of blowing things up (but maybe we'll find a superbug?). :)
(I'll take this over to email for the visit as I'm not so free with my personal information as you are.)
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On Wed, 27 Feb 2013 09:29:42 -0800, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

Here is a big zoomable picture of yet another of my screwdrivers with the white crust on the outside next to a battery with similar looking white powdery residue. Do you think the crud is related?

The question, since all my screwdrivers are from the 1980s, is why some and not others would have the white stuff. (Note: I inscribed the date on this screwdriver in 1981.)
I do think these white ones were those that I worked in hospitals with at that time but I don't know if there is any connection.
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On Thu, 7 Mar 2013 19:39:56 +0000 (UTC), "Danny D."

The stuff leaking out of the alkaline battery is potassium hydroxide. It can be cleaned off with any weak acid. Just smear on some vinegar to the battery first. If it fizzes and foams, try doing the same to the screwdriver. If you get the same fizz and foam, it's potassium hydroxide.

Well, if it is mold, it has to be one of the slowest growing mold infestations I have ever seen. I used to manage my fathers apartment building and I know (black) mold when I see it. The plastic stuff is nothing like it.
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wrote:

Oops. The electrolyte is potassium hydroxide. The white residue is potassium carbonate. 2KOH + CO2 -> K2CO3 + H2O Sorry(tm).
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micky wrote on Wed, 27 Feb 2013 02:21:50 -0500:
micky wrote on Wed, 27 Feb 2013 02:21:50 -0500:

Does it look like this?

Or this?

The former I always attributed to some kind of persistent "moldy" like white paste (which I've long ago painstakingly scraped off handle that tool you see in the picture so that only remnants remain)
The other is on my pool pump - which - you can imagine - isn't mold but a white chemical covering (calcium carbonate?).
So, the first question, is whether it's a mold or a chemical? Note: I don't know the answer for either of my tools above.
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On Wed, 27 Feb 2013 20:37:00 +0000 (UTC), Bill Rotham

Well, you can easily eliminate calcium carbonate (lime) as a possibility. Take some dilute hydrochloric acid (Muriatic Acid or pool chlorine), and smear it on the plastic rot. If it fizzes and belches gases, it's calcium carbonate. If it doesn't fizz, it's something else: CaCO3 + 2HCl -> CaCl2 +CO2 + H2O
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On Wed, 27 Feb 2013 18:22:49 -0800, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

I'll try that tomorrow as I have tons of pool acid (HCl).
Like you, I'll take a relevant picture, and let the world know the results.
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On Wed, 27 Feb 2013 02:21:50 -0500, micky wrote:
micky wrote on Wed, 27 Feb 2013 02:21:50 -0500:

Does it look like this?

Or this?

The former I always attributed to some kind of persistent "moldy" like white paste (which I've long ago painstakingly scraped off handle that tool you see in the picture so that only remnants remain)
The other is on my pool pump - which - you can imagine - isn't mold but a white chemical covering (calcium carbonate?).
So, the first question, is whether it's a mold or a chemical? Note: I don't know the answer for either of my tools above.
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Dont touch the utils with greasy fingers. That feeds the mould.
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On Thu, 28 Feb 2013 02:39:32 +0000, Sjouke Burry wrote:

If it is mold, I doubt shop grease would feed it as I don't think anything has evolved to eat grease just yet. Wait a few thousand years, and I'm sure they will.
Now, if you meant oily fingers (from human sebum), I'm sure LOTS of organisms find that yummy.
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You can have mutant oil eating bacteria today: <http://www.naturalnews.com/031090_Gulf_of_Mexico_bacteria.html
I usually wear blue latex rubber gloves when working with anything potentially nasty or messy. It's not really for protection but because I dislike cleaning up everything I touch afterwards. Black fingerprints on my (music) synthesizer keyboard is not a good thing.
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On Wed, 27 Feb 2013 21:01:42 -0800, Jeff Liebermann wrote:

I hadn't realized they were that advanced!
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Brian Berg wrote the following on 2/28/2013 1:24 AM (ET):

Who?
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willshak wrote:

"Mutant oil eating bacteria" was one of those flash in the pan '80s rock bands. ;)
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Yep. So far, 27 different varieties of bacteria and fungus have added diesel fuel to their menu: <http://www.oillab.co.nz/diesel_bug_explained <https://www.google.com/search?q=diesel+bacteria&tbm=isch When I drove a diesel pickup truck, I would occasionally add a biocide to the tank. Over time, the bugs are developing immunities to the common bug killers. Left to expand uncontrollably, this could be the end of civilization as we know it.
Meanwhile, researchers are working on a way to break down all the plastic bottles, containers, packaging, and junk that our civilization is so good at producing. At the present rate, we'll be swimming in plastic garbage unless something is done to accelerate decomposition. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch> One of the methods proposed is to breed and release plastic eating bacteria in the landfills. <http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/research-innovations/blogs/boy-discovers-microbe-that-eats-plastic <http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110328/full/news.2011.191.html etc. Eventually some bug will be found that eats plastic. It will leak out of the landfills, infest out homes, destroy everything made from plastic, and rewind civilization before the discovery of petroleum (steam punk?), which might not be such a bad thing.
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And it left holes in m fingers too. LOL.
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On Wednesday, February 27, 2013 2:21:50 AM UTC-5, micky wrote:

Your best bet in a basement is to run a dehumidifier at all times. The mois ture that gets in the air in a basement usually has no way out of the house so it attaches to whatever it can and causes different types of mold to gr ow. I have seen this a lot in basements over the years and in most instanc es a dehumidifier will solve the problem.
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On Wed, 27 Feb 2013 02:21:50 -0500, micky wrote:

As the OP, you have more responsibilities than the rest of us.
As such, would you kindly snap a photo of what you're talking about so the rest of us can compare it to our screwdriver handles.
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