Gerald - my wife's anatomy instructor in med school did die from formaldehyde exposure. He never
even made it to 40. I substitute thymol or glyaxol whenenver possible. But fungus per se ... I too live
in a damp climate and just picked up a case of dessicant canisters, like they use in gun safes (pretty
much a hydroscopic clinker mix of lime and rock salt). Some fungal spores can live for centuries if not millennia. They're everywhere.
If as you say the cause was constant formaldehyde exposure then this is the first case I have heard of.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
I gave up using the thymol. I found that the vapours tended to condense out on the object involved. I stored the Kiev which started this thread with a little sachet of thymol inside the body and after a few weeks, found liquid thymol on the shutter curtains. Logically it should evaporate off again eventually, but I'm still waiting! Also it appeared to have no discernible effect in slowing the spread of mildew on a camera case.
I have used the paraformaldehyde, heating the crystals occasionally to help the production of the formaldehyde gas. I found some data somewhere online (though I cannot locate it at present) which stated that formaldehyde fumigation is only really effective at ambient temperatures over 20°C and relative humidy over 75%. The latter isn't a problem here, but the former rather limits its use to a couple of weeks a year!
By the way, there is an extremely interesting article on fungus here. It is mainly directed at archivists, but photographic materials, including glass, are covered. It dismisses thymol, but doesn't mention formaldehyde, and says at one point that UV light is fungistatic rather than fungicidal (i.e.it stops it spreading but doesn't kill it), which I didn't know.
The article also possible answers my original question (how do you tell if a fungus is dead?). Apparently the answer is to add lactophenol-cotton blue solution which stains living fungi blue, but I may need to get my hands on a decent microscope.
Gerald - the dangers of formaldehyde are well documented. All our own bodies produce small amts of
it. But certain local building codes have banned formaldehyde glue in plywood (the substitutes don't
work very well, however) - since some people get allergic or even more serious reactions to all the
formaldehyde outgassing in new construction. But the far more serious problem is at the mfg level
of these kinds of products where workers are potential exposed to much greater quantities. Similarly,
a medical instructor working with cadavers all day long is going have experience far more cumulative
exposure than his students. It's a known career risk, but in some fields people just get too comfortable with the status quo. In this university town we have a saying: If you want to live past
52, don't be a crop duster, an industrial painter, or a research chemist.
The best way to kill this fungus is to take the stuff outside, douse it with lighter fluid and light it.