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Climate-Change Fungus is Wiping out Frogs – according to new Study

January 12, 2006. LONDON - An infectious fungus aggravated by global warming has killed entire populations of frogs in Central and South America and driven some species to extinction, scientists said on January 11, 2006.

In research that showed the effects of rising temperatures on delicate ecosystems, a team of researchers found that a warming atmosphere encouraged the spread of a fungus that has wiped out species of harlequin frogs and golden toads.

"This is the first clear evidence that widespread extinction is taking place because of global warming," Dr Alan Pounds, an ecologist of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica, said in an interview.

"Climate change is already altering the dynamics of infectious disease and causing species to disappear."

Pounds and his team established the link between global warming and the disappearance of frogs in the cloud forests of Costa Rica by analysing sea surface and air temperatures, which rose by 0.18 degrees per decade between 1975 and 2000.

Warmer temperatures increased cloud cover over the tropical mountain which the scientists believe promoted conditions to spur the growth of the chytrid fungus that kills frogs.

They are confident that global warming is a key factor in the disappearance of many amphibian populations in tropical forests.

"There is absolutely a linkage between global warming and this disease - they go hand-in-hand," said Dr Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa, of Canada's University of Alberta and a co-author of the research published in the journal Nature.

"With this increase in temperature, the bacteria has been able to increase its niche and wipe out large populations of amphibians in the Americas," he added in a statement.

About a third of the 5,743 known species of frogs, toads and other amphibians are classified as threatened, according to the Global Amphibian Assessment.

Up to 167 species may already be extinct and another 113 species have not been found in recent years. Habitat loss is the greatest threat to amphibians but fungal disease is also a serious problem.

Andrew Blaustein, of Oregon State University, and Andy Dobson, of Princeton University in New Jersey, described the research as a breakthrough.

"The powerful synergy between pathogen transmission and climate change should give us cause for concern about human health in a warmer world," they said in a commentary in Nature.

"The frogs are sending an alarm call to all concerned about the future of biodiversity and the need to protect the greatest of all open-access resources - the atmosphere," they added.

Story by Patricia Reaney

Suits filed against Florida school boards
Washington Times newspaper, March 3, 2004

WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- The law firm of Babbitt, Johnson, Osborne & Le Clainche Tuesday announced it had filed 11 suits over alleged toxic mold in two Florida schools.

The suits were filed against the Charlotte and Sarasota County school boards and contractors and builders by parents who assert their children got sick as a result of the school systems' failure to address mold problems.

These are the first major suits on mold in schools on Florida's west coast, but are preceded by similar suits in Broward County.

In April 2003, a Broward County grand jury issued a report condemning the Broward School District for lagging in its efforts to get rid of mold. The county responded by launching a comprehensive remediation program but still was sued by parents concerned with their children's health.

State Sen. Skip Campbell of Coral Springs has introduced a legislative bill to make Broward's program mandatory statewide.
Toxic Mold In News: 
Home Invasion in Utah


The news article below was on page 1 of the St. George, Utah, Daily Spectrum newspaper on March 9, 2002.

Toxic mold invades Utah house, sickens family

Ivins — Tiffany McDonald, 21, knew there must be something enigmatic about her house near 200 East in Ivins.

Two years ago, her grandmother, Mary Brennan, who was described as an energetic hiker, unexpectedly died of breast cancer at age 64, three years after she moved into the $60,000 house. Then, during her pregnancy, McDonald spent 10 days in the hospital because of “a weird smell” in the house.

And only nine months after her daughter, Lainee, was born, the baby was bleeding internally, beginning a series of ailments from asthma to diarrhea to bacterial infection.

“Seriously, I would rather leave everything than feeling the way we felt,” said McDonald, who moved to her parents’ house in St. George about seven weeks ago. The best way, she said, “probably is just forcing yourself out, bankrupt and start over.”

The condemnation of her house was blamed on toxic mold, which had invaded the bathroom, closet and bedroom. The fungus, which has 200 species, is routinely found in the United States, such as stachybotrys, chaetomium and penicillium, display black, gray, brown and other colors with a musty smell. Spreading through spores, mold can cause health problems to adults and pets if they inhale it, swallow it or touch moldy surfaces. But it’s especially hazardous to small children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

In 2000, Newsweek magazine reported that mold accounted for 6 to 7 percent of all chronic sinusitis cases. A report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last year confirmed that certain types of mold can lead to asthma, allergies, infectious diseases and such toxic effects as aflatoxin-induced liver cancer.

In recent years, mold has triggered thousands of lawsuits, prompting the first mold bill in the nation last year, which required California home sellers to disclose mold problems. Even Erin Brockovich, made famous by the movie with her name, fought against landlords and insurers for the mold contamination in her house. In 2001, a Texas court awarded $32.1 million to victims exposed to extensive mold damage in their homes.

Phillip Fry, a certified mold inspector and manager of Mold Inspector in Hurricane, said mold exists in the southwestern desert area because of the wide use of swampcoolers, which are susceptible to leaking while traveling from the roof down into the house. Mold, which grows in dark, moist and warm environments, can suck nutrition and water from various building materials, such as cardboard, wallpaper and wooden substances.

Even though it’s hard to establish a direct link between mold and breast cancer, They said the family was convinced that high levels of mold have caused the sickness in their daughter and granddaughter. After McDonald and her child moved away from the house, she said, the symptoms began to go away. Lainee has also become more energetic and healthier.

There have been reports that a family in Oregon burned its mold-contaminated house. As for his house, he said, there’s not much he can do.

“Talk to the bank, mostly. Lose it,” he said. “What can I do? I don’t have any money to fix it. It won’t appraised for what it’s worth it.”

Hire mold consultants Phillip Fry and Divine Montero to find air conditioning mold, workplace mold, and mold hidden inside the walls, ceilings, floors, crawl space, attic, and basement of your house, condominium, workplace, or other building. Mold Training  Mold Inspector Directory  Industrial Hygienist Training  Industrial Hygienist Directory Building Mold Inspection