Friday, 26 August 2016

Friday Fungus: Eating batteries and why bagpipes should be banned...

Some fungus going about its rotten business - loverly!
You'll have noticed just how good fungi are at rotting stuff. The mushrooms and their mouldy yeasty brethren are right at the heart of nature's processes for chewing up - recycling if you must - things that are lying around. Sometimes this is a problem - as people looking shocked at a dry rot growth on the house they left lying around discover. But sometimes - like with nappies - it's brilliant:

A team of scientists from the University of South Florida has found a natural way to recycle the tons of waste batteries. Lead researcher Jeffrey A. Cunningham and Valerie Harwood are using three strains of fungi – Aspergillus niger, Penicillium simplicissimum and Penicillium chrysogenum that are naturally occurring in decaying foods. They have presented their finding at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society that is held in Philadelphia until Thursday this week.

OK the researchers end up with an acidic soup filled with cobalt and lithium. And don't know how to get those lovely metals out. But it's still great and takes us a step closer to better battery disposal and recycling.

When it comes to rotting stuff, however, fungi aren't choosy. Lungs are good:

Playing the bagpipes could prove fatal, scientists have warned, after a man died from continually breathing in mould and fungus trapped in his instrument.

Doctors in Manchester have identified the condition “bagpipe lung” following the death of a 61-year-old man from chronic inflammatory lung condition hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

The condition is triggered by the immune system’s response to inhaling irritants. When the unnamed man was diagnosed in 2009 doctors were puzzled because his house contained no mould and he had never smoked.

Now I know you've always wanted a reason to ban bagpipes...



Anonymous said...

Roy Castle? Alleged passive smoking or his own wind instrument. Lest we forget, he is the only person ever to have been named as someone supposed to have been killed by smokers - the fantastical figure pulled from the air for dramatic effect of 600,000 people killed by smokers per year is just nonsense and and we all know it.

Ask anyone and they'll give you an army of anecdotes of how their mother's uncle's sister's aunt worked in a club in the 50s and 60s, never smoked, but died in her 70s of lung cancer. Ask them to name anyone that they know for sure died of other people's tobacco smoke and you get one name, Roy Castle, and now it seems more likely that he would have tragically died anyway even if smoking didn't exist.

I really feel sorry for the way this poor bloke and his family have been exploited over the years by the lunatic fringe of the anti-smoker industry.

Anonymous said...

Reminds one of the definition of a gentleman - someone who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn't.