August 2011

QuanTEM Chronicle

An informative Newsletter for Environmental Professionals

Message from John Barnett, President 

John Barnett, President
John Barnett, President.

Hello Friends.


QuanTEM is always looking for ways to reward our customers for their loyalty such as our Customer Rewards Program and now that summer is sliding into the past we are starting our Customer Appreciation Days.


From now through the end of 2011 we will be awarding a $100 credit each week to one lucky customer. We will be picking the winner from those customers who sent in work that week. It's our way of saying THANK YOU to our loyal customers for continuing to use QuanTEM for their laboratory needs.  


Also on October 14th QuanTEM will be holding an OPEN HOUSE from 4:00 to 7:00 for our customers. Good food, a chance to meet and talk with the staff, prizes, refreshments and a all around good time. Try to make it if you can, it will be worth the trip.


Good luck to each of you.


John Barnett


QuanTEM Laboratories, LLC




Can We Stop Blaming Rats for the Black Death?

 Published: August 18, 2011 - By Staff


Could it be that the horrific Black Death, which killed up to half of Europe's population in the mid-14th century, wasn't triggered by vermin after all? New research by a British archaeologist challenges the conventional view that rats and fleas transmitted the disease and implies that bubonic plague may not have caused the pandemic.



After 10 years of poring over documents and archaeological evidence attesting to the Black Death's devastation of London in the late 1340s, Barney Sloane smelled a rat. Or rather, he failed to catch a whiff of the flea-infested rodent armies most scholars have charged with spreading the fatal disease. In a new book published last month, Sloane paints a revised picture of England's most populous city in the throes of the terrifying pandemic, suggesting, among other things, that some of history's most vilified pests deserve an apology.



Typically considered an outbreak of the bubonic plague, which is transmitted by rats and fleas, the Black Death wreaked havoc on Europe, North Africa and Central Asia in the mid-14th century. It killed an estimated 75 million people, including 30 to 60 percent of Europe's population. According to the traditional narrative, the crisis reached England in the spring of 1348 and began assailing its capital by late summer. Scores of Londoners developed painful swellings that oozed blood and pus before suffering fevers, chills, vomiting and severe aches and pains that often heralded their imminent deaths.


In the course of his book research, Sloane, who handles research grants for the organization English Heritage, uncovered clues that cast doubt on certain aspects of this account. First, using previously untapped archival sources, he adjusted the timeline of the plague's sojourn in London in 1348 and 1349. "The evidence shows the plague appeared in November and reached its height in April," he explained, "so it spread right through the cold winter months when rats and fleas should not be so active." If vermin played a significant role, he theorized, plague cases would have petered out, not snowballed, when temperatures began to fall.

A former field archaeologist at the Museum of London, Sloane also found that excavations in the city have turned up little evidence of a massive rat die-off coinciding with the plague. "Tens of thousands of people died," he said. "If it was rats [that spread the disease], they too should have died in the thousands, and we would expect to see a significant number of rat bones in waterlogged 14th-century contexts. Instead we see generally low levels of bones, which is suspicious."


Finally, wills hastily drafted by panic-stricken Londoners as the Black Death ravaged their communities revealed that the disease proliferated like wildfire; in many affected households, people died within hours or days of signing, and their


Black Death Virus

beneficiaries followed them to the grave in short order. In Sloane's view, this rapid rate of transmission suggests that the plague spread from person to person, not through bites from rat-borne fleas.


Sloane said his findings call into question the theory that bubonic plague-caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis-was responsible for decimating medieval Europe. Other researchers, including James Wood of Penn State University, have expressed similar doubts, pointing out that the pandemic's hallmark symptoms occur in many other diseases that spread quickly among human carriers. In October 2010, a group of European scientists claimed to have settled the debate by using DNA analysis to implicate Yersinia pestis in the outbreak. But their study did not encompass pre-1348 graves, so it is possible that the bacterium was present but not the actual killer, said Sloane. "On balance, I am suggesting we need to be more scientific and do more work before claiming we have solved the mystery," he explained.


In his book, Sloane challenges other prevailing assumptions about the Black Death in London as well, including its casualty count. "London's population was maybe 60,000," Sloane said. "I believe firmly that something like 35,000 people died in nine months-up to 60 percent of the population. This is considerably higher than the 35 to 45 percent normally suggested."



He also explores how the aftermath of the plague, which left its ghastly stamp on England and Europe for decades, shaped the social and moral context of the era. "It clearly changed how Londoners at least approached death, burial and charity to their fellows," he said. "Survivors tended to give more away to good causes in their wills; they included more instructions to be buried close to loved ones; and they made more bequests to particular social groups such as lepers, prisoners and hermits." READ MORE








Mesothelioma May Be Tied to Genetics a New Study Claims

Posted by Alex Heigl on August 29, 2011 4:55 PM      


Asbestos isn't a widely used insulation anymore, though many individuals still face exposure in older homes with deteriorating insulation, or through their jobs.

Researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center looked at two extended families in which mesothelioma had a high rate of incidence. Eleven people with the lung disease (usually caused by inhaling asbestos fibers) had mutations in a gene called BAP1, which plays a role in tumor suppression and in recycling cellular proteins.


Fox Chase scientist Joseph R. Testa claimed that the find could lead to new drugs and better enable early detection and better survival rates for a disease whose diagnosis is usually a death sentence, according to


Patients whose mesotheliomas are found in the later stages, as most tend to be, will usually die within a year -- those with cancers that are caught early, before the tumor has spread, generally have a median survival rate of about five years -- one man lived 14 years after a diagnosis.

Testa urged anyone who has been exposed to asbestos to get a CT scan of the lungs, and said that those related to a mesothelioma victim should consider a scan as well.



In This Issue
Can We Stop Blaming Rats for the Black Death
Mesothelioma May Be Tied to Genetics a New Study Claims
Study Reveals Bacteria From Dog Feces in Outdoor, Urbanized Air
Did Skin Cream Kill Egypt's Queen Hatshepsut?
California Asbesots Deposits Mapped


While Summer may not be quite over, it's time to register for QuanTEM's Fall Mold Investigator Training course!


October 5-7 2011

Oklahoma City Oklahoma


 Call me for more information!
(800) 822-1650
or... email me at
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Editors Note

By:  Scott Leavell, Business Development Director, QuanTEM Laboratories, LLC

Beginning July 1, 2011, QuanTEM Laboratories is now participating in AIHA's Industrial Hygiene Laboratory Accreditation Program (IHLAP).  


QuanTEM's AIHA accreditations which include Environmental Microbiology (EMLAP) and Environmental Lead (ELLAP) will now include Phase-Contrast Microscopy Analysis (PCM) for the Asbestos/Fiber Microscopy Core category.

 AIHA LAB CODE 101352 

For more information on QuanTEM's lab services and accreditations, please email me at or call me at (800) 822-1650!






Study Reveals Bacteria From Dog Feces in Outdoor, Urbanized Air

Posted August 19, 2011  


Bacteria from fecal material -- in particular, dog fecal material -- may constitute the dominant source of airborne bacteria in Cleveland's and Detroit's wintertime air, says a new University of Colorado, Boulder study.



The CU-Boulder study showed that of the four Midwestern cities in the experiment, two cities had significant quantities of fecal bacteria in the atmosphere -- with dog feces being the most likely source.

"We found unexpectedly high bacterial diversity in all of our samples, but to our surprise the airborne bacterial communities of Detroit and Cleveland most closely resembled those communities found in dog poop," said lead author Robert Bowers, a graduate student in CU-Boulder's ecology and evolutionary biology department and the CU-headquartered Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES. "This suggests that dog poop may be a potential source of bacteria to the atmosphere at these locations."

Bacteria found in dog feces.

The study was published July 29 in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Co-authors on the study included Noah Fierer, an assistant professor in CU-Boulder's ecology and evolutionary biology department and a CIRES fellow; Rob Knight, an associate professor in CU-Boulder's chemistry and biochemistry department; Amy Sullivan and Jeff Collett Jr. of Colorado State University; and Elizabeth Costello of the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Scientists already knew that bacteria exist in the atmosphere and that these bacteria can have detrimental effects on human health, triggering allergic asthma and seasonal allergies, Fierer said. But it is only in recent years that researchers have realized that there is an incredible diversity of bacteriaresiding in the air, he said.

"There is a real knowledge gap," said Fierer. "We are just starting to realize this uncharted microbial diversity in the air -- a place where you wouldn't exactly expect microbes to be living."

To gain further understanding of just what microbes are circulating in urban environments, the team analyzed the local atmosphere in the summer and winter at four locations in the Great Lakes region of the U.S. Three of the locations -- Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit -- are major cities with populations of greater than 2 million, and one location, Mayville, Wis., is a small town with a population of less than 6,000.

The team used nearly 100 air samples collected as part of a previous study conducted by Colorado State University. The CSU experiment investigated the impact of biomass burning and involved studying the impacts of residential wood burning and prescribed fires on airborne fine particle concentrations in the midwestern United States.

"What we've been looking at are the numbers and the types of bacteria in the atmosphere," Fierer said. "We breathe in bacteria every minute we are outside, and some of these bugs may have potential health implications."

The researchers analyzed the bacteria's DNA in the collected air samples and compared the bacteria they found against a database of bacteria from known sources such as leaf surfaces, soil, and human, cow and dog feces. They discovered that the bacterial communities in the air were surprisingly diverse and also that, in two of the four locations, dog feces were a greater than expected source of bacteria in the atmosphere in the winter.

In the summer, airborne bacteria come from many sources including soil, dust, leafsurfaces, lakes and oceans, Bowers said. But in the winter, as leaves drop and snow covers the ground, the influence that these environments have as sources also goes down. It is during this season that the airborne communities appeared to be more influenced by dog feces than the other sources tested in the experiment, he said.

"As best as we can tell, dog feces are the only explanation for these results," Fierer said. "But we do need to do more research."

The team plans to investigate the bacterial communities in other cities and to build a continental-scale atlas of airborne bacterial communities, Fierer said. "We don't know if the patterns we observed in those sites are unique to those cities," he said. "Does San Francisco have the same bacteria as New York? Nobody knows as yet."

Fierer believes it is important to pin down the types of bacteria in the air, how these bacteria vary by location and season, and where they are coming from.With this information, scientists can then investigate the possible impacts on human health, he said.

"We need much better information on what sources of bacteria we are breathing in every time we go outside," Fierer said. 




Did Skin Cream Kill Egypt's Queen


 Published: August 19, 2011 - By Staff


The Egyptian queen Hatshepsut might have accidentally poisoned herself with skin lotion, according to a new study. Researchers have detected a highly carcinogenic substance in the dried contents of a cosmetic vial found among the female pharaoh's possessions. One of ancient Egypt's most powerful rulers, Hatshepsut is thought to have died of bone cancer in 1458 B.C.


A flask of lotion believed to have belonged to the female pharaoh Hatshepsut contains a carcinogenic substance that might ultimately have killed the Egyptian queen, German researchers said today. Part of the permanent collection at the University of Bonn's Egyptian Museum, the vessel was thought to have held perfume until a two-year study uncovered traces of what appears to be an ancient treatment for eczema or psoriasis. Its ingredients include palm and nutmeg oil, fatty acids that can relieve certain skin conditions and a type of cancer-causing tar residue, which is also found in cigarette smoke.

"We have known for a long time that Hatshepsut had cancer and maybe even died from it," said Michael H�veler-M�ller, the collection's curator. "We may now know the actual cause." He also said that other members of the queen's family are thought to have suffered from inflammatory skin diseases that tend to be genetic


Many scholars regard Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt from 1479 to 1458 B.C., as one of the most powerful and successful pharaohs in history. During her 22-year reign, she ushered in an era of peace and stability, established a vast trade network and commissioned hundreds of construction projects. To win over detractors who considered women unfit for high office, she emphasized her royal birth and had artists depict her with a male body and false beard.


After Hatshepsut's death, her resentful stepson and heir Thutmose III attempted to erase all traces of her from the historical record. This could explain the empty sarcophagus British archaeologist Howard Carter found when he discovered the queen's royal burial place, located in Egypt's Valley of the Kings, in 1902. But in 2007, Egyptian authorities announced that Hatshepsut's mummy had turned up in a nearby tomb. A CT scan revealed that she had died in her 50s of bone cancer and also suffered from diabetes and arthritis.


Did Hatshepsut inadvertently poison herself while trying to soothe her itchy, irritated skin?

"There is a lot that speaks for this hypothesis," said Helmut Wiedenfeld of the University of Bonn's pharmaceutical institute. "If you imagine that the queen had a chronic skin disease and that she found short-term improvement from the salve, she may have exposed herself to a great risk over the years."


Though ancient Egyptians certainly used remedies-some more effective than others-for a wide variety of conditions, Wiedenfeld thinks Hatshepsut's lotion might have hailed from afar. "Egyptian physicians were general practitioners and good surgeons, but they were lousy internists," he explained. "It is quite possible that they owe their knowledge of certain medications to their contacts with Persia and India, where the healing arts were very advanced even in antiquity." READ MORE.


California Asbesots Deposits Mapped
August 23, 2011


Asbestos is in our state rock, and it's in more places than you might think.

The U.S. Geological Survey this week released a comprehensive map of all the known places in California where asbestos is found, including mines and exposed natural formations.


Off-roaders in the Clear Creek Management Area, in San Benito and Fresno counties, are all too familiar with white asbestos in the form of the mineral chrysotile. A 31-square-mile swath of the off-road vehicle area was closed in 2008 after a report suggested that extensive long-time use of the area (five visits a year over 30 years) could be hazardous to your health.


The federal Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the land, has kept most of the area closed to the public while it completes a new management plan and environmental impact statement.


The Environmental Protection Agency found that dangerous levels of asbestos dust were being stirred up by motorcycles and other off-road vehicles. Any human use, even camping and hiking, was deemed potentially dangerous, especially to children, and outlawed until the BLM develops a new plan for the area.


Clear Creek, which registers 35,000 visits a year, has long been known as the largest U.S. deposit of asbestos, a natural mineral and known human carcinogen. The area harbors an EPA-designated toxic Superfund site, the former Atlas asbestos mine. Previous studies over several decades found high levels of asbestos in the area.

Other hotspots for asbestos are in outcrops in the state's far north: Shasta, Trinity, Siskiyou and Del Norte counties. It also surfaces along the coastal ranges and Sierra Nevada.


The map is part of an effort by the federal agency to identify locations nationwide where asbestos mineralization occurs.  READ MORE.


Drought Brings out the Bugs

Posted: 9:31 PM Jul 25, 2011, Retreived August 31, 2011
Reporter: Kristen Shanahan

LONE GROVE, OK -- These hot and dry weather conditions are bringing in unwanted visitors to homes. Kristen Shanahan shows us who is trying to break in -- and why.


Varied Carpet Beetle

We aren't the only ones trying to escape the extreme heat and dry conditions. So are our "pesty" neighbors. Pest Controller Mike Burns says he has done his job for fourteen years but business has really taken off this summer as insects invade homes, seeking cooler temperatures and water.



"I have seen it the busiest I've ever seen it," Burns said. 


Burns says they've seen problems with spiders, scorpions and hornets, but the most troublesome of all have been the ants.


"The ants are extremely bad this year due to the weather. The dryness, they're going to the sinks," Burns said.


Burns says a lot of outside watering will attract insects to your front door, and that the drought has caused creatures like hornets to resort to things like flower pots to quench

Fire Ant.

their thirst.


And he isn't only seeing the infestation on the job, but at his home too.


"My wife watered and I had to treat the fire ants in the backyard."


Burns warns other people to take precautions to avoid these little intruders. He recommends sealing up holes or any openings where bugs can crawl through. And he has a piece of advice to avoid a certain type of sting...


"Now the scorpions have been bad, and what I can tell people--don't throw those pillows in the floor. Because the scorpions, if you have scorpions, can possibly get in the pillow and go back up on the bed. I have seen this situation," Burns warns.  READ MORE.



Barbara Holder, Customer Service Manager This has been a busy summer for QuanTEM and all of our clients. Work has been coming in fast and furious from all across the country.

During the haste in sending samples to us, you must be very careful to place each sample in a sealed plastic bag. When we process the incoming samples for analysis, the samples that are not properly contained can spill from the packaging and contaminate the entire area.


If this happens, we have to stop processing samples and decontaminate the sample login area. These samples will also cross contaminate the other samples in the package.


Please be careful when you package your samples for transport to the lab. Make sure all samples are contained and sealed.




You can email me at HERE or call me at (800) 822-1650  



QuanTEM Chronicle Newsletter
Produced & Edited by
Scott Leavell, Business Development Director 
Suggestions or comments?  Email me here.

Any publication included in this News Letter and/or opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the views of QuanTEM Laboratories, LLC but remain solely those of the author(s). Such publications have been included only for ease of reference and academic purposes.
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