I can't believe what I heard today...

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Well said sir!
Actually, you both may well be correct in your original assertions. The real distinction may be between what lives within the wood or directly on its surface and what lives on the molds, mildews, dust, dirt, and critter droppings that can accumulate on long-stored or long-installed wood objects.
David Merrill (not a biologist either)

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On 15 Feb 2007 20:57:46 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

No offense taken
Frank
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On Thu, 15 Feb 2007 16:56:16 -0600, Frank Boettcher

That may be true of wood kept off the ground, but that's not always the way it is stored. Can't know unless you see the particular case in point, and a guy buying tools at Walmart is unlikely to be a high-end craftsman who has put a lot of time into figuring out his wood storage.

There are acids in the wood that kill bacteria, as I understand it. However, those woods are properly dried, stored indoors and cleaned after use. It's not terribly farfetched to think that something like a pile of maple planks left outdoors could support bacteria if they're stacked face to face and an animal uses them as a toilet or sleeps on them. There are sugars in the sap for the bacteria to consume, and keeping the wood closely stacked can keep the outdoor air from those faces.
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mrmjr wrote:

Guillain-Barrι Syndrome
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Never, I have never seen a Tool Section in Wal-Mart.
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On Thu, 15 Feb 2007 22:07:58 GMT, "Leon"

Good point.
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They do have one, at least around here. It has a FEW home owner type drills and power saws and some low end hand tools. You can pick up same fair deals once in a Blue Moon. K-Mart has a better selection most of the time even if it is crapsman stuff. I think the low end tools people buy may have a lot to do with the mystery of how tradesmen and artisians do such wonderful work

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Some guy...had a friend...that was hospitalized from an infection and the friend of the guy said that it was due to old lumber.
I got some problems with this kind of heresy. Seems to me they would have to culture the bugs that were infecting the guy and then trace this to the source in order to make the connection.
Seems to me the only time this kind of thing happens is when there is a great public health threat, and that is usually after people start dropping dead from some strange infection.
I can only think of several cases like the mouse turd dust, Sars, or the Ebola virus where the CDC sends out men in white coveralls and fancy respirators to track down the vector of something nasty.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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Not far feched at all if it wasn't the wood, but what was on it
one possiblity is Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/hanta/hps /
Idaho had an outbreak about 15 years ago, the people who got sick where cleaning out a shed and an other one was cleaing out a basement if the boards have been sitting in a shed, the mice come in and poop and pee and there you go
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Just to add a little fuel to the fire; I ran into an older gentleman (who asked me not to mention his name over the internet) over the weekend at the Home Depot who has retired from both the lumber industry and the woodworking industry. He said that this debate is much, much older than I thought. He told me that he's known of many similar instances of what I had told him and everyone in this newsgroup. He said that the symptoms are usually passed off as another type of problem.
He went on to say that supposedly the fungi that grow on the wood won't malignantly seek us out to cause problems but their spore when stirred up can get into the respiratory system and open us up for other infections. Then to the contrary, he added that he could remember a small bit of lumber that sat in an old drying shed that had no fungi or mold or anything as he said on it and it still decomposed. He said that this in particular led him to believe there may be something we were not aware of that made wood (cut wood I suppose) its home and was perhaps the main contributor to decomposition. He added that it may actually be an infectious agent or have infectious properties, but being unknown it was simply passed off as something else.
His reasoning behind this was he had known people who told him that before coming to work in these industries had no known allergies or chronic illnesses, but after exposure to the wood (even those not around the machines where sawdust was generated; I asked) would develope chronic problems that were passed off as allergies, the flu, bronchitis or similar by doctors. He could even recall customers that frequented the yard he worked in complaining that they had not had problems before entering construction or other jobs that required working with lumber or wood. The people he referred to that wasn't around sawdust worked in an area of the yard he called the "pick yard" or "picking area" (I can't exactly remember which). Now I'm not really sure what that is, but he said it was far away from the machines that did the cutting.
He then told me of a Doctor he thought was out of Australia or maybe it was New Zealand that had discovered a microbe (for lack of actual terminology) or something that was infectious and smaller than a virus. Strangely it seemed I thought I could remember seeing something on television some time ago about this very Doctor, but had not payed that much attention to it. It scared me pretty good and with this all in mind, I have to wonder. What do I need to do to take care of my lumber and myself? I bet I won't do any more cutting or woodworking without one of those filtered masks on.
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Some woods like elm rot so fast that they are notoriously difficult to air-dry. OTOH Elm is also notorious for checking and warping when it is kiln dried. So I wonder what species that was.

While it is commonplace (and probably on balance, a good thing) for people to associate disease with rot and filth, it would be remarkable if the same organism that rots wood, infected humans. Those are just two wildly different 'lifestyles'. But fungi (which are usually what do rot wood) are well know to cause allergic reactions.

Several years ago I bought 300 bf of eastern Aromatic red cedar and drove it home in my van, a trip of about 2 hours or so. I had a roe throat the next day, and being aware of cedar's toxic properties I wore a respirator with activated carbon filter the next day when I unloaded the van. Several weeks later I moved the stack without wearing a respirator and had the sore throat again. A lot of woods are toxic and stimulate allergic reactions. You don't need heavy exposure to the dust develop those problems, long term low-level exposure can do it too.

One such (maybe the only sort) of infectious agent smaller than a virus is a "proteinaceous infectious particles" (prion).
Prions are thought to be proteins, not having any nucleic, material at all. No DNA, no RNA, just a bare protein. They use the victim's RNA or DNA to reproduce themselves and one popular hypothesis is that they originate as fragments broken form DNA or RNA. It is possible that prions are the causative agent in other neurodegenerative illnesses without current known causes.
The most notorious of these is the infections agent for "mad cow' disease, which is believed to be the same prion that causes an handful of previously, separately identified illnesses in humans and animals (scapies, Kuru, Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease). Because prions are protein, cooking does not render contaminated food safe --unless you cook it to the point where all the proteins are destroyed by which point there isn't much nutritional value left in the food.

protein found in wood would be compatible with human DNA or RNA, but wood can also be contaminated with proteins left behind by animals, various bugs, mites etc. Then again, supposedly something close to 50% of human DNA is the same as found in a bean plant.
A fair number of people don't wear masks because they've "never had a problem". The best way to keep on "not having a problem" is to wear a mask.
--
FF


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This goes out to everyone that has replied and may yet still reply to my inquiry. A BIG, BIG THANKS. I have to admit I wasn't sure I'd get a reply and to get one of this magnitude with such great input has really been appreciated. So far, I've learned quite a bit from you all. I guess when it comes to personal safety, it's ok to be a little selfish. I'll be wearing a mask...everytime.
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