Monday, June 5, 2017

Handwashing guidelines for Farms, Fairs, and Fun

Handwashing is important to minimize the spread of  germs when visiting a farm or a petting zoo this summer.  Information below is provided from UMASH and the Minnesota Department of Health. This UMASH site links to a printable pdf of the poster Don't Spread Germs - Wash Your Hands!

Handwashing video of approximately 2 and 1/2 minutes

Friday, June 2, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Water leak detection with FLIR one IR camera

IR image reveals blue areas noting water damage near bathroom water leak - N. Carlson

Infrared photo to the right of the door - N. Carlson
Part of the base cove has been removed in this photo to check for water damage.  Note that water damage is suggested by the lighter blue color in this FLIR one image in areas further to the right where the base cove has not been removed.

IR photo of same wall with a different color contrast - N. Carlson

Infrared imaging helps explain location of fungal growth on exterior wall

Flir One infrared image of exterior wall Feb 2017 - N. Carlson
The blue and purple colored areas are colder than the yellow and red areas on this infrared photo taken with a FLIR One infrared camera attached to a Samsung cellphone.

Dark areas of mold growth on an exterior sheetrock wall.
The space was used to store books and other materials.  The interior relative humidity was measured at 46%.  This allowed for condensation on the metal roof deck and for the equilibrium relative humidity on the sheetock over the metal studs to be greater than 70%. 

Energy collecting windows - U of Minnesota research

Luminescent Solar Concentrator - Steven Shimizu

Current silicon solar cells have an efficiency of 25%.  These cells are opaque (do not allow light to transmit through). Please see Standard silicon solar cell parameters (PV

In a luminescent solar collector, the quantum silicon dots embedded or painted on transparent glass reflect light to the perimeter of the glass where solar collectors convert the light into energy.  This allows a window in a building to also work as a solar collector. Because silica is not an element in short supply, this allows for low cost and low efficiency (2.5 to 5%) solar energy collection. 
The U of M Brief publication article on Energy Collecting Windows now a Step Closer to Reality 
describes the process researchers used to construct the window based solar collectors. The abstract,
Highly efficient luminescent solar concentrators based on earth-abundant indirect-bandgap silicon quantum dots provides more information.  

The Clean Energy Institute lists resources and materials needed to construct a Luminescent Solar Concentrator.

Windows that collect solar energy - 2 min.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Reasonable cost mycology microscope

I am currently setting up a small micro lab at home as I am taking care of someone on medical leave.  I wanted to find a reasonably good quality microscope that allowed me to read samples but cost less than $1000.  I settled on an AmScope T720 40X-1000X Plan Infinity Kohler Laboratory Trinocular Compound Microscope from Amazon and purchased it with regular shipping for less than $600. 

The trinocular scope has a 10x eyepiece with 4x 10x 20x 40x and 100x Plan nose pieces.  I stayed away from the 20x eyepiece on other models as any magnification without oil over 400x tends to be a bit blurry.  The 200x magnification really speeds up a scan of the field with a bit more clarity than the 10x and more area than the 400x,  The LED light works well as does the stage operation. I may later purchase a digital camera for the top mounted lens.

One minor issue with the scope.  It does not maintain perfect focus when transitioning between different magnifications.  On the plus side it has eye correction adjustments for both eyepieces.  The field of vision is good and the ergonomics of the scope is sound even though I chose not to pay for a model with a tilting eye piece.

Alternaria spp. and Penicillium spp. spores 200x - N.Carlson

The above photo was taken with a Samsung Galaxy S-5 smart phone through the eyepiece of the microscope with magnification at 200x.  This is definitely good enough to pick out spores during an initial scan of both and Air-o-cell cassette trace or a tease tape sample. This was a tease tape sample taken from a swab. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Foldscope kickstarter program

Foldscope microscope -

Foldscope has launched a Kickstarter program for its next round of origami foldable microscopes with a 140x lens.  Sign up at Foldscope Kickstarter to purchase the microscope.  The lower cost sponsorships are no longer available.  Microscopes in lots of 20 can still be obtained for less than $2 per scope.  The current low cost project is $30 for a teacher's kit.  It includes 20 microscopes plus a teacher microscope with case.  The cost for shipping will vary depending on the location. 

I recently used this Foldscope in the field as part of a mold investigation.  I magnetically attached a Foldscope  to a Samsung S-5 cellphone.  The researcher and our Facilities Management representative could then view the magnified image of the mold Cladosporium spp. growing on the supply diffuser.  

Supply diffuser with suspected mold growth.

Original Foldscope image unmagnified

Foldscope image of Cladosporium spp. magnified and enhanced with Adobe Photoshop Elements 12.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

FLIR ONE photo options

Full color spectrum IR image from FLIR-One infrared camera

The FLIR ONE infrared camera for Android and i-phone offers several imaging options to emphasize one part of the image.  Sometimes simplifying an image helps to focus attention on either a hot spot or a cold spot in the frame. The first image above shows the full color default infrared setting. The next two images emphasize the coldest and warmest spots in the image.

Blue cold area by open window

Red hot area by supply air diffuser from a forced air furnace

Saturday, September 24, 2016

FLIR ONE IR camera for Android and iOS

Flir One reflected IR image off of glass in an office - N. Carlson

The FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for Android uses the USB input from the camera to take infrared photos with visual light outlines.  Without the outlines it is sometimes difficult to orientate to the objects that are being photographed. An iphone version is also available FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for iOS.

Pros: The cost is reasonable. It varies around $200 to $250 USD. from Amazon or other retailers. Stand alone units cost 2 to 10 times as much.   The camera charges in one hour using a standard android USB charger.  The cable is included, but the plug in is not. A small case with a lanyard is provided.  Instructions are online.  Two additional connections are included to allow the FLIR ONE to be connected to the camera at different orientations.  The infrared images are clear and the spot temperature reading in both Celsius and Fahrenheit is useful.  It also shoots videos.

Cons: The infrared camera app interface is a bit buggy. The initial USB interface often displays an error message before working.  The camera image also sometimes freezes.  The camera works best when the temperature cross hairs are turned on.  It worked on my Samsung 5 SM-G900A camera Android version 5.1.1.  It did not work on my LG Leon with running on Android version 5.1.1.

Interesting features:  After taking a photo, the image can be reviewed in the FLIR ONE app.  If the image is finger swiped up or down the natural light image is revealed below.

Heat left over on sofa seats after the people have left - N. Carlson
The image of the photographer is reflected in the window opened at the bottom - N. Carlson
A device is hooked up to a power strip pulling phantom power.  I unplugged it after taking this picture. - N. Carlson

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Paecilomyces spp.

Paecilomyces spp. growing in a malt extract agar culture plate - N. Carlson
Paecilomyces spp. microscopic photo - N. Carlson

Paecilomyces spp. in culture - N. Carlson

The organism, Paecilomyces spp. is structurally similar to Glocladium spp.(Trichoderma spp.), Penicillium spp. and Scopulariopsis spp.  The tendency of the conidia to be produced in chains and angle off at a 45 degree angle from the phialide separates it from the other three.  Even though the tan flat colonies of Paecilomyces spp. and Scopulariopsis spp. colonies appear to be similar on culture plates, the round rough spores of Scopulariopsis spp. differ substantially from often smooth oval shaped Paecilomyces spp. spores.  

This organism is less frequently picked up in culturable air samples then Penicillium spp. It grows well in compost and rotting food. According to EMLab P&K, it can cause both allergies and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.  The organism is rarely pathogenic individuals even though it can grow at 37 degrees Celsius.  There is a potential for hospital acquired (nosocomial) infections in immune compromised individuals. 

On a spore trap sample the Paeciliomyces spp. spores would be classified as Asp/Pen like. 

Paecilomyces spp. - Mold 2 min.