Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Is Sutton Growing Mushrooms at the Town Hall?

Mr. Eddie Vos, noted Quebec engineer submitted the following note regarding the current debate in Sutton about possible health risks at the town hall:

There are no mushrooms at Sutton Town Hall, at least not $550,000 worth.

The Journal de Montréal of May 14th alleged that mushrooms are growing in Sutton Town Hall and that its basement is covered in mold.  However, a microbiologist from the firm AirMax could find no mushrooms or mold colonies, none.  She thought there was one on the basement floor but it turned out to be a mold-free mineral from the cement mix.  Despite these findings, we now have a June 3rd motion proposing to borrow $550,000 to "decontaminate" Town Hall.

These facts are from the reports that the Council, to their credit, published on MySuttonTownHall.org and MonHotelDeVilleDeSutton.org.  What else does the microbiologist tell us?  Well, the good news is that whatever she pointed her scanner at was below 15% humidity; that means bone dry.  No moisture, no mold growth.

AirMax found the humidity slightly low in one office in the North-East building area.  They found surprisingly, in this office only, 9 "stachybotrys" molds per cubic meter of air and stated that this has “potentially deleterious effects” meriting "rapid" work.  Let’s step back.  AirMax states that there are no Canadian or American standards regarding molds, yeasts or spores in the air, none, and the report has thus not a single relevant reference.

Fortunately, there is a 2011 Position Paper with 78 references by the 97 year old American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, ACOEM, that indeed singled out “stachy” as one of the potentially most troublesome molds.  They calculate that for a 40 hour work week, more than 300,000 rather than 9 stachys would have to be present to have any potential airway effect.  Also, 9 is below the average for 1717 American buildings testing positively.  The ACOEM bluntly concludes: “Current scientific evidence does not support the existence of a causal relationship between inhaled myotoxins [mold toxins] in home, school, or office environments and human health-effects.”   Read this again, please.

Then, without scientific justification AirMax alleges that some air mold levels are “high” [implying for health] while the ACOEM states there should be a doctor's diagnosis because of the many more probable causes of nose and airway problems. No such diagnoses were presented to explain a rolling absenteeism of 10% of the employees last winter (2 out of 19, à tour de rôle, said the Mayor).
How about molds? The ACOEM states that they cannot be eliminated from indoor environments and that most are on the outside. For some perspective, there are 300,000 species of which reportedly 200 live on most people's feet. AirMax proposes disposable suits, rubber gloves and breathing masks when decontaminating Town Hall. Let me suggest that this then should also be the procedure when removing your socks at night, obviously an unhealthy activity according to AirMax's microbiologists and their Petri dish results. Then again, without molds, we'd have no forests, no agriculture, farming, beer, yogurt, cheeses or bread, to start with.
We know from the Town website that its basement molds are "representative" for similar basements and that we have 3 feet thick stone walls that are in good condition. This is more good news. The air tests were done in 3 northerly rooms that are not in the main southerly structure or above the basement. Moreover, absenteeism without doctors diagnoses does not science make. For example, the Journal reported that one employee had a chronic cold. Colds are normally bacterial diseases in which, ironically, penicillin, derived from molds, can be helpful.
Finally, when I examined the basement, and I have examined many, I found no evidence that this 150 year old structure was ever flooded or humid, something unlikely anyhow since it reportedly sits on a porous sand-and-gravel soil deposited by the adjacent Sutton River. Therefore the ground water level below Town Hall is likely the same as in that brook, many feet below the basement floor. And, yes, there were no mushrooms!
Eddie Vos, M.Eng. Sutton QC

450 538 0465

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hello friends
Beginning this week, this Blog will continue now that I am back home. Our new house is in Newport, Vermont. It is located at 17 Prospect street, two minutes from downtown and from my porch I can see the water which is lovely.

I shall try to write about Newport, its environs, attractions and doings like I did for my beloved Sutton area which I still shall try to cover as much as possible as well.
See you soon