I ran into a guy today at Wal-Mart in the tool section that told me
about his friend that had been hospitalized from either a bacterial
infection or a viral infection he got from using some old lumber in
the back of his shed. I'm still a novice, but Wow! This seems a bit
far fetched. Has anyone ever heard of anything like this before?
I have not been hospitalized, but remodeling has led me to some pretty
nasty materials. If the lumber from the back of his shed was covered
in some kind of mold (I am thinking exposed to the air, and to water
that didn't drain or dry - you know, the pile of shit lumber that we
are going to use later) that was particularly thick and nasty, I could
see it. I have torn out bathrooms and has molded boards rub across my
arms without piercing the skin that have raised red marks and tiny
If there was something in the grain of the wood, he cut it or sanded
it, and inhaled the dust, he could have gotten something nasty.
Bacterial? Maybe. Viral? Probably not. An allergic reaction?
For more than you can chew on this subject, go to the woodworking rec
and search for spalted wood turning. Spalted wood - wood streaked
with mold and fungus - is highly prized (I force spalt some of mine)
for turning as it gives wood tremendous character. However, many have
claimed all manner of ailments from turning this stuff, and it has
gained national attention from its dangers in the turning community.
When I was too stupid to wear my dust mask, it sure got me. I was
turning spalted pecan. I felt like I had bronchitis for a couple of
days after turning and sanding the piece, all the while inhaling the
dust. Now I but quality throw away dust masks and use them every
Try Googling "spalted wood danger" and you will be surprised at all
Have had some run ins with a few fungus on old boards that made me sneeze
and once with one that looked like leather, and burned to the touch. Guess
they could give you problems if they got in you lungs. Had a lot more
trouble with dust then anything else doing with wood.
Possibly mold, but the reason that wood is the preferred material for
food cutting boards (rather than the various plastics that have shown
up) is that bacteria doesn't like it. It is not a fertile material
for the propogation of bacteria or viruses, so it seems unlikely that
is the source of the problem.
Well, I guess you haven't been in an leaky shower for a while. Or
seen an old woodpile, or been behind he old timer's house that has
wood he was saving for "that project" for many years. I have loaded
wood into dumpsters that was so decayed that it was swept up and
shoveled into a wheel barrow first.
If bacteria and fungii didn't break down wood, why does it decay?
What causes it to rot? Why do I have a gold colored mold on one side
and white/black mold/fungus on the other side of a large log I have
been too lazy to split for a few years?
Wood will easily sustain mold and fungus. Properly maintained wood
will not. Some woods will rot and attract fungus more than others
(this is why spalted oak is rare compared to spalted maple).
So I think, personally, that while "old wood" could mean a lot of
things to a lot of different people, if it has been improperly stored
or cared for it could easily have mold and fungus growing on it.
OP wasn't talking about new lumberyard material.
On Feb 15, 4:56 pm, email@example.com (Doug Miller) wrote:
Also, unless his friend is one of HG Wells' Martians,
the bacteria associated with putrefaction (rot) are
unlikely to make him sick.
Bodies left unburied in the aftermath of a hurricane
or tsunami are gross, but not a health hazard. If
the people were not sick when they died, they
can't spread disease to the living.
Disease causing microbes require a living
host. So even when the victim succumbed
to an infectious or contagious disease, by
the time the body starts to rot, disease causing
microbes within it are likely to be long-gone.
There are exceptions like anthrax, rabies,
and others which can survive for years in
a dormant state--usually after voiding the
host, but most die within hours of the host.
You can get rabies from breathing the dust
coming off of old wood IF it has batshit on
it and the bats were rabid. You might
be able to get hantavirus from rodent
urine on it.
I'll agree with the others in this thread that the
most likely culprit is a toxic, allergic, or auto-
immune reaction to mold or fungus in the wood.
It is pretty important to avoid breathing dust,
but especially dust contaminated with mold or
fungus, regardless of the source.
Could well not be.
A couple of years ago I had a severe bacterial lung infection.
Doc's were trying to blame it on woodworking until a lab technician happened
to ask if I'd cleaned out a barbeque pit lately. Sure enough, three days
before the symptoms hit me, I had cleaned out two barbeque pits.
Lab technician said that if they've just asked him earlier, he could have
told them how common it was to come down with a bacterial lung infection
after cleaning a barbeque pit.
As the body musters itself to attack the mold or the toxins they
manufacture, it often becomes more vulnerable to the spread of bacteria it
otherwise would have an easy time controlling.
In the case of ashes, I suspect a large dose of alkalosis might have been
Note that winter, with its low indoor relative humidity produces more lung
infections. Keep your parents' homes humidified, they'll breathe better and
live longer. As long as you don't get it humid enough to foster molds....
Isn't just like a doc (or the MIL) to blame woodworking for anything that
I am going to wear a super gas mask/filter when I clean out the barbecue
from now on! Maybe even a full fledged hazmat suit.
Lee Michaels wrote:
> I am going to wear a super gas mask/filter when I clean out the
> from now on! Maybe even a full fledged hazmat suit.
OK, I'll bite.
How do you clean your barbecue?
I fire up a 500,000 BTU propane torch and burn mine clean.
Quick, fast, cheap, and neat.
Left long enough fungi and insects will cause it to decay. I still
don't think it will be harmful to humans from contact alone. The
point I was making is that wood kept off the ground is not a good
propogation site for bacteria.
Not a biologist, I simply read several university studies on cutting
board materials and their relative safety from bacteria when I was
making a few cutting boards. I thought the man made materials would
be better. I was wrong based on what I read.
In the southern states many insurances companies are opting out coverage of
mold and mildew on home owners insurance. That stuff lives on the wood
inside walls in damp areas like bathrooms. It costs a fortune to remediate.
Well that's better than opting out of all coverage. State Farm just
announced that, because of the untenable legal environment in
Mississippi, they will write no new policies. Started out just no
policies south of Interstate 10, but as of two days ago, statewide.
IMHO insurance companies should not be able to pick and choose their areas
of coverage and change in a moments notice. We had the same happen here in
2001 when Houston flooded.
The insurance companies love to lobby to make some insurance mandatory but
other insurance unavailable if it does not suit them.
Unlike most companies, it is extremely rare for an insurance company to not
show a yearly profit.
There's a couple of thoughts on that.
Usually, it's a means of applying political pressure on certain
regulatory and legal bodies to get certain measures passed.
It irritates their policy holders, particularly newer ones. It really
irritates their agents, particularly the newer ones, who make much of
their income by selling policies.
They are a mutual company, owned, pretty much, by their policy holders.
If they cannot balance the risks, financially, across their base, they
have to adjust the base. Sometimes, not adding new policies is the way
they do it. They don't like it, either.
My dad was a State Farm Agent for 35 years. I've never been one, but
I've been their customer for longer than that.
Things will settle out. The Gulf Coast still is a long ways from
settled from the storms, and will be for a while. State Farm will be
back in the new policy game at some time, is my guess. They are in and
out in California, too.
8 years ago, I had to replace my wood shake roof, or find a new
insurance company. I'd only been their customer for 30 years or so at
that point. Stuff happens.
In this case it is a State Attorney General, a U. S. Senator, A U. S.
district Representative trying to make political hay and "save" the
population. They are aligned with a very well known and successful
class action attorney. And we know whats in it for him.
There has already been one case ruled upon and in addition to settling
the claim, a two million dollar punitive award was given. Multiply
that by 10,000 and you begin to see the problem.
Each year I get a renewal notice on my policy and there is separate
page in the renewal package with a message in very large, bold face
type. It simply states that "your property is not covered from
damages due to rising water from any source no matter the nature and
cause of the rising water. Because of your location you are not
required to have federally subsidized flood insurance but it is
available if you feel you need it. The procedure for obtaining this
flood insurance is.......You should consider this risk and act
I don't have state farm HO but assume all insurers send out this
The rising water did the damage. The cases are based on the fact that
the "wind drove the water in" , or the damage was done before the
water got there.
Katrina was a tragedy of epic proportions. Many of my friends and
relatives were impacted as was I in a minor way (lost about $5K in
woodworking supplies and machinery that were remotely stored and not
covered because of the rising water. But I can assure you the answer
is not to litigate private companies out of the state which will only
limit competition and raise rates or deductibles that would make the
Just homeowners policies are stopped, they will still take your money
for auto and life and what ever else they write policies for. Otherwise
every State Farm agent in Mississippi would be out of a job, except for
handling current policies.
Frank Boettcher wrote:
No Frank, you were NOT wrong in context of cutting boards. I am an
avid cook and have not only read the same things you have, but
followed the debates over the years. I think it was proven to just
about everyone's satisfaction that wooden cutting boards are even more
safe than plastic in the home environment.
And I agree with you that wood kept off the ground is not a good site
for bacterial growth. With those qualifiers, I agree with your
Perhaps I should have been a little more careful in my original
response, too. I didn't mean to offend.
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