WNS nylon decontamination discussion

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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby John Lovaas » Feb 25, 2008 3:14 am

wyandottecaver wrote: Does the decon protocall described for WNS kill fungal spores? that I don't know.


FWIW, I looked at my copy of The Mushroom Cultivator by Paul Stamets, and he wrote that a 10% bleach solution is suitable for "washing down" work rooms where tissue culture or spore inoculation is going to be performed.

In Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms, he refers to Pinesol, isopropanol, or a dilute bleach solution.

I have another book on mushroom cultivation from the, ahem, 1960s, and they recommend a two stage treatment of Lysol followed by a dilute bleach solution for all work surfaces.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Teresa » Feb 25, 2008 9:06 am

And the key to keeping gear from deteriorating after any sort of decontam is *rinsing*. At least twice. In the case of fungal things -- then make sure whatever it is,is completely dry before packing.

I suspect the fiber used for ropes is much thicker than that used for most clothing, and likely can stand more abuse.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby ek » Mar 1, 2008 10:35 pm

On the topic of boiling water and ropes, I believe that nylon (either type--Nylon 6 and Nylon 6.6) begins to soften at temperatures significantly above the boiling point of water. This merits checking with other sources, but Life on a Line, 2nd Edition specifies:
Nylon-6,6 softens at T[s]=230[deg]C and is stable up to working temperatures of 100[deg]C. Nylon-6 softens at T[s]=190[deg]C.


However, I would expect that putting a rope through boiling water would both shrink and dry out the rope.

On the topic, brought up earlier in the thread, of cleaning wounds by pissing on them, I believe this is not recommended, as even though urine is sterile (i.e. does not contain harmful pathogens), it could provide food for pathogens.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby ron_miller » Apr 1, 2008 9:35 am

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has updated their recommended procedures for gear decontamination. The updated procedures include specific recommendations for ropes and harnesses.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Apr 1, 2008 11:02 am

Before we all go out in the backyard and soak our ropes in bleach, I would like to humbly remind everyone of something.

No one yet knows what WNS is or how it spreads.

I believe the one good thing that can come out of WNS is better cross-contamination control by cavers. This will be an improvement for cave ecosystems all-around. However, we are not neccessarily to blame for WNS, yet. WNS has been around for two winters and has so far not spread out of the Northeast. All this time, Northeastern cavers have been exploring caves in West Virginia, TAG, and beyond. Some of the caves and mines where WNS has been identified were already closed to all except bat researchers. All this seems to suggest that cavers may not be the vector here.

By all means, clean your gear between trips. Most of us in the West (and many in the East) have been doing that for years. But don't get paranoid. All of these precautions can only help, but no one has yet answered the critical questions: What is WNS and how is it spread?

I have not caved in the Northeast for six years and will not be applying any sort of bleach to my nylon life-support equipment, no matter what PMI says.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby PYoungbaer » Feb 26, 2009 4:43 pm

Replies to multiple comments:

We do know that the fungus can be spread bat to bat. Laboratory bat chamber tests have now proved that.

We do not know that the fungus is being spread by humans. We do not know that it isn't. However, the recent confirmation of WNS in West Virginia caves does point to a human vector, as those sites are beyond the range of bat movement from the nearest known WNS sites.

WNS is spreading faster than the science can research it. Thus, one commonly held strategy at this point is containment. Hence, decontamination protocols for cavers and researchers alike. Whether containment will buy enough time to allow us to overcome WNS is clearly uncertain, but we should definitely try.

An active discussion within the USFWS on the current protocols is underway. As I posted earlier, Eliah Kagan is acting as the facilitator between the rope manufacturers and the USFWS personnel. In addition, Dr. Hazel Barton has stepped up to assist with the decontamination research in her laboratory, and is collaborating with Dr. Blehert, and the USFWS folks.

Further, the questions about hot water/temperature are under active study and a question I've posed on several occasions to the researchers. Dr. David Blehert has noted that the fungus thrives at 41-50 F, and apparently remains active up to 70F. Does 110 degree household or 120 degree commercial laundromat water kill it? Or just render spores inactive until optimal conditions are returned for the fungus to thrive? Unknown. But, clearly, if heat alone does the trick, that will be a big breakthrough. This is being looked into, and we await the answers.

Folks, we all understand these protocols are a drag. And the balance between sterilization and safety is definitely a challenge. But it serves no one well to have more than one standard out there. Having a separate standard that isn't endorsed by the USFWS would put unnecessary focus, and perhaps blame, on cavers. That isn't wise. We cavers must police ourselves, or others will do it for (to) us.

It's also important to remember that there is a federal lawsuit filed (by the Center for Biological Diversity)against many of the federal agencies who deal with endangered species. Having the universal protocol the responsibility of the USFWS, and not a separate one by the NSS, or other entities, keeps the legal issues where they should be. We don't need that, either.

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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Scott McCrea » Feb 27, 2009 9:56 am

Hey ek,

Have you tried contacting DuPont and other Nylon 6 and 6,6 manufacturers for info?
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby ek » Feb 27, 2009 10:40 am

Hmm...no, I have not.

I suppose that if companies that produce nylon can state that it is chemically inert to various substances, that could help.

Nylon 6,6 was invented at Du Pont. But do you know if Du Pont produces Nylon 6 as well?
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Phil Winkler » Feb 27, 2009 11:36 am

Yes, Dupont did:
DuPont patented [1] nylon 6,6, so in order to compete, other companies (particularly the German BASF) developed the homopolymer nylon 6, or polycaprolactam ...

It is used as airbag among other things.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby ek » Feb 27, 2009 11:40 am

Right, Nylon 6 was developed to compete with Du Pont's Nylon 6,6.

So, are you saying that Du Pont does also product Nylon 6, or that they don't?
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby PYoungbaer » Feb 27, 2009 12:01 pm

ron miller,

When I saw the date of your posting (April 1), I was expecting a tongue in cheek link, but this is in fact a new update on the USFWS protocols. Not much has changed. The section on ropes and harnesses has always been there - it is not new. What's new specifically is the news about the product Pure Green 28, a fungicide, among other things. However, this posting comes from results at Dr. Blehert's lab that it is not effective against the Geomyces sp. Thus, it has officially lost its USFWS approval for this purpose.

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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Scott McCrea » Feb 27, 2009 12:12 pm

AFAIK, all US made ropes use 6,6 and there are only a few European Nylon 6 ropes. I read somewhere that 6,6 is much better for caving ropes.

I was assuming that DuPont made both 6 and 6,6, but it makes sense that they don't. So, who knows who makes polyester?
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby ek » Feb 27, 2009 12:42 pm

I believe that Nylon 6,6 is usually used for static (er, semi-static) nylon ropes, and that Nylon 6 is usually used for dynamic ropes, since it is a chemically stretchier material.
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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby karstmd » Mar 12, 2009 9:16 pm

Breaking News! This from Bob Zimmerman, well known caver, who was been involved in working with and interviewing various researchers. He understands the speed of electrons...

Yo all,

Another ray of hope: I have held back mentioning this until I can get more details, but have decided that it is too important to wait any longer.

On Tuesday, while I was on the batcount with Craig Stihler, he mentioned that a researcher in New York: Warden Stone, had found that a 2x dose of Lysol will kill the geomyces fungus. It wasn't until today that I could track down Stone's contact info and talk to him myself. He confirmed that Lysol will work and that it is a far better solution that bleach, which can damage gear. Note that he also confirmed in that phone conversation that bleach HAS been tested against the fungus and it DOES kill it. He also mentioned another way of decontaminating the gear, but I was unfamilar with the substance and can't remember the name right now.

He had promised to email me today details of using both Lysol and that other substance. I haven't gotten that email yet, so I can't give you any specifics. However, as soon as I have them I will forward them to the listservs.

Regardless, this far more benign method of decontamination eliminates all objections that anyone may have for decontaminating their gear. It also makes it possible for us to clean our vertical gear safely.

This email can be forwarded to other listservs.

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Re: WNS nylon decontamination discussion

Postby Carl Amundson » Mar 12, 2009 9:54 pm

Miles, thanks for the information.
Any alternative decon procedure that does not involve bleach is good news.
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