Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby NZcaver » Apr 20, 2009 6:06 pm

Bill Putnam wrote:I am starting to think that Jansen is losing his sense of humor, and that is the main thing I love about him.

Nope, it's still there. If it was any more there, I'd probably be in a padded room. :hairpull:

It's certainly ain't his good looks and his dancing skills. :tonguecheek: :big grin:

You ain't kiddin'! :rofl:

I'll leave those talents to you, Bill. :kiss:
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby erebus » Apr 21, 2009 10:24 am

Bill Putnam wrote:Yes, you are right! - I was going too fast and trying to jump back and forth between forums and I made a mistake :sorry: I did have the kissing smileys and I did take them out, when I took out the "lets' kiss and make up" closing that you apparently felt was sarcastic (though I did not intend it to be - it was just a joke), because they no longer made sense. :doh: Should I put them back? :hairpull: I meant no smileys in the serious remarks in the body of the post. Are all smileys sarcastic? How are kissing smileys sarcastic? :shrug: Now Daniel is calling me a cheater and a hypocrite and Jansen is calling me out again!! :yikes: I did not think that kissy faces and that closing would be considered sarcastic or condescending, but apparently they were. I'm sorry again! (Will he think this is sarcastic too? Will this never end? How do I get out of this loop? I'm really truly sorry!) I can't believe I am spending this much time and taking this much effort to apologize for this and make you guys happy! What is wrong with me? :oops: Was that mean, too?

Slow down there, buckaroo! I did not say that your 'kiss and make up' remark was sarcastic, nor did I say anything else in your comment was sarcastic - I didn't even use that word. Also, please show where I called you a cheater and a hypocrite. I didn't use those words, either. If you're working in too many threads at once to even notice when you've made a claim that's false, you've got too many irons in the fire.

As for what to call a politician who claims he didn't say something there's video of him saying - I don't know of any case where Obama did that. I had someone else in mind.
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby Bill Putnam » Apr 21, 2009 10:51 am

erebus wrote:Slow down there, buckaroo! I did not say that your 'kiss and make up' remark was sarcastic, nor did I say anything else in your comment was sarcastic - I didn't even use that word.


I guess I misunderstood - but I thought that's what you meant. What did you actually mean?

Also, please show where I called you a cheater and a hypocrite. I didn't use those words, either.


Well then what did you mean when you compared me to a politician caught in a lie? What was your point about my post if you were not saying that I had cheated or lied or whatever by removing the kiss smiley after saying "no smileys"? I mean, yes, I did remove it and yes I did erroneously write that there weren't any. It was a mistake that I have acknowledged and corrected and apologized for, and I'll try not to repeat it. I thought you were calling me on that and implying that it was deliberate. Is that not what you meant?

If you're working in too many threads at once to even notice when you've made a claim that's false, you've got too many irons in the fire.


You're definitely right about that. I need to slow down, or better yet, get a life and do something else.

Bill
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby erebus » Apr 21, 2009 11:13 am

Bill Putnam wrote:I guess I misunderstood - but I thought that's what you meant. What did you actually mean?

I meant that your apology had a condescending tone, which made me (and maybe nobody else) question whether it was sincere. I do believe now that it was.

Well then what did you mean when you compared me to a politician caught in a lie? What was your point about my post if you were not saying that I had cheated or lied or whatever by removing the kiss smiley after saying "no smileys"? I mean, yes, I did remove it and yes I did erroneously write that there weren't any. It was a mistake that I have acknowledged and corrected and apologized for, and I'll try not to repeat it. I thought you were calling me on that and implying that it was deliberate. Is that not what you meant?

I did think it might have been deliberate, but I didn't want to come out and say so, because I couldn't be sure, and that's a pretty strong accusation to make. You say it wasn't deliberate, and there's no way anyone else can be certain that it was, so it would be wrong to say that now. If I were you, I'd be careful with that kind of thing. Part of the reason I suspected deliberation is that you have been accused of it before.

I need to slow down, or better yet, get a life and do something else.

Me too.
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby Bill Putnam » Apr 21, 2009 12:23 pm

erebus wrote:I did think it might have been deliberate, but I didn't want to come out and say so, because I couldn't be sure, and that's a pretty strong accusation to make. You say it wasn't deliberate, and there's no way anyone else can be certain that it was, so it would be wrong to say that now. If I were you, I'd be careful with that kind of thing. Part of the reason I suspected deliberation is that you have been accused of it before.


Well, you're right, and it was in this same forum or a related one and on the same topic involving the same people, so I can see how you might wonder. Two strikes, and all that. But it really was unintentional both times.
Last edited by Bill Putnam on Jun 3, 2009 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Final Solution

Postby Bill Putnam » Apr 21, 2009 12:34 pm

OK, so here's the definitely definitive answer, straight from FaceBook (a truly authoritative source) and Kim Hunter, who works at PMI and has been fielding an increasing number of questions from cavers regarding WNS decontamination procedures.

[WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: This was submitted by Kim Hunter, PMI Employee and active caver, without permission or sanction or approval from the Company or anyone connected to it, now or ever, including me. DO NOT take this seriously. It is a joke. Really - just a joke. A funny joke, but still just a joke. DO NOT try any of this at home under any circumstances, except for the naked part, and then only if you look good naked. - Bill Putnam]

How to Properly Decontaminate your Caving Gear from Exposure to WNS
by Kim Hunter

It appears this fungus-among-us has sparked a great deal of debate and controversy regarding decontaminating your gear and how not to spread the dreaded WNS to our beloved TAG bats. Well after a lot of research, I've come up with the following procedures proven to be quite effective:

First, how NOT to spread the deadly W-N-S!

1.) Since the pathogen COULD be airborne, always wear proper breathing apparatus when caving. SCBA? Perfect!

2.) The standard Level-A Hazmat suit is the newest and coolest innovation in caving design. Your regular mix of Tyvek and Teflon is covered with a new version of air-tight Cordura for extra abrasion resistance. Of course those squeezes could pose a problem, so I suggest a chemical-resistant worm tube (sold separately) that magically covers your suit and shoots you through any of those pesky tight spots. Oh and did I mention that the worm tube comes with its own stuff sack and is smaller than your Nalgene bottle?

3.) Of course wearing that Level A suit can get hot! So to combat this particular problem, there is now an after-market piece you can buy that fits into your SCBA and circulates an air current in lovely swirls around your body (separate from your air supply of course). And the best part is you can adjust the temp to anywhere from 50°F to 68°F!

4.) Take your Swaygo everywhere with you! It's surprising that this hasn't come to light yet, but I discovered that my Swaygo emits an odorless, colorless and completely non-toxic flexible shield that surrounds everything within a 50 foot radius, which means the WNS devils can't penetrate your beloved gear.

5.) Lastly, NEVER tell anyone which cave you're going to. WNS has ears too, and will likely follow you if it knows where you are headed. You don't want to be the one caver responsible for that, do you?

How to De-Con your Gear AFTER Caving:

1.) Obviously if you don't have a Swaygo, your gear was penetrated by the evil pathogen. So in order to avoid carrying those spores out of the cave, make sure you always take a bottle of straight bleach with you to leave just inside the cave entrance. Right before you exit the cave, strip down naked, lay all your cave gear out, and douse it all thoroughly with bleach. Don't worry about rinsing it - Clorox only perpetuates the myth that bleach is hazardous to nylon in order to sell more! Don't fall for it! The only way to safely get back to your vehicle is to throw all of your bleached gear into a trash bag and walk to your car naked.

2.) Another recent discovery during all of the WNS studies shows that carrying a small pouch of frankincense & myrrh resin, while stimulating your olfactory senses, will also repel the evil spirits that are the actual cause of the fungus. After a cave trip, move the pouch slowly over all of your gear while chanting "begone thou spore of evil root and seed".

3.) For hardware, put all of your carabiners, ascenders, etc. into a bath tub filled with 3 parts kosher salt, 2 parts white vinegar, 1 part lemon juice, 10 parts boiling water, a dash of pepper, and one whole cumquat. Let soak for 48 hours then rinse.

4.) If you are a poor rebel caver and didn't spend the big bucks on the Level A suit, then it has most definitely infected your lungs and intestines. Therefore as soon as you arrive back to your vehicle, eat one whole jalopeño pepper followed by a teaspoon of Wasabi, and a teaspoon of cod liver oil. Then head home for a steam treatment. Using a typical water basin, fill with 5 Cups boiling water, 3 teaspoons of peppermint oil, and 5 tablespoons of cat urine. Cover your head with a towel and breath in the steam deeply for about 15 minutes. The ammonia in the urine may burn a little but it will pass.

5.) Last but not least, your pit rope is not salvagable. Save a bat, buy a new rope.

I hope this has been helpful for all you cavers out there who have requested that we provide proper procedures for dealing with the WNS fungus. By following these guidelines exactly, we can stave off the spread of WNS to our TAG region and keep it all up there with the damned Yankees.

Kim Hunter, caver and probably-soon-to-be-ex-PMI-employee-once-Steve-hears-about-this

[WARNING: Do not follow any of the suggestions above unless you want to DIE or be ostracized by the entire caving community. This is a JOKE! Do not take it seriously. A JOKE I tell you - Bill Putnam.]
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby ek » Apr 21, 2009 1:31 pm

:laughing: :funny post:
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby ek » Apr 24, 2009 12:33 am

Bill Putnam wrote:Eliah,

I have obviously hurt your feelings. I am sorry. I did not mean to do that. Jansen was right and I dialed back my comments and edits. They were over the top. I was trying to be funny and to get you to lighten up. I did not do a good job at that. My bad.

I thought I had marked my edits and acknowledged the errors, but send me a PM if I missed any and I will go back and fix them. You quoted the points you disagreed with in your responses, so they are still available despite my edits. Sorry for the faux pas - my bad, again.

You're a nice kid, and wickedly smart. If I my offer you one piece of advice from an old, bold, caver: try not to take yourself too seriously. Life is too short for that.

My point was that continued insistence on fine detail is obscuring the big picture for Lynn and others who are new to this and have not delved into it to the extent that you have. Step back and summarize the big picture for them, instead of overloading them with information. It has been my experience that people listen and remember ideas better if we use that approach.

Bill

Bill, as far as I am concerned, there are no hard feelings between us, nor any reason there should be. As for any offensive or disrespectful comments or whatnot, yes, I forgive all that. As you (all) know, I am an extremely argumentative and, in some ways, even mean-spirited person, and I have said far worse things many times. I have probably said far worse things today...and I'm not even thinking of anything in particular. As for the use of smiley faces, I can assure you that I was not bothered by that ;-).

As far as inaccurate or misleading statements are concerned, I think that's not the sort of thing that should be apologized for and forgiven, but rather the sort of thing that should be pointed out and corrected. I think that as things stand now, it's pretty clear to everybody that 10% bleach poses a danger to ropes and harnesses that requires the attention of those using it.

I feel that a very important point, which is less clear from this discussion, is that we do not know for sure that bleach gets rid of the fungus when it's impregnated in clothing or caving gear--there are no published or otherwise publicly reported experimental results that say it does. Bleach has an excellent and deserved reputation for killing microbes, but the WNS fungus is weirdly resilient in a number of ways. I think it is important to understand that we do not yet have conclusive scientific evidence that bleaching is effective.

I'm not sure if this was intended, but I think the sense people have been getting from your recommendation that they decontaminate once with 10% bleach, and then use other methods forever after, is that it's possible to convert gear used in WNS areas into gear that can be responsibly used in unaffected areas by bleaching. This is simply not so. We do not know that the bleach works any better than other methods. Bill, if you did not intend for people to understand your recommendation in this way, I would encourage you to clarify this for people. And if you did intend this meaning, I would encourage you to reconsider.

In terms of making a clear statement about bleaching, I think the title of this thread, and the PMI statement, do that. I agree with you that short, simple statements are important...and I further agree that I have not been doing this. While I do not think thoroughness is bad, I do think that I am often too wordy...to an extent that is bad.

Bill Putnam wrote:p.s. Let's get together and have a beer or something in Indiana.
Ground rules: No talk of WNS or speleo-politics.

While I don't think I'll be attending the NCRC weeklong in Indiana this summer, next time we're in the same place I'd be pleased to sit down and have a beer with you and not talk about WNS or caver politics.

I would also be pleased to work with you on WNS-related matters. As you know, I've been in contact, and continue to be in contact, with a number of manufacturers. Some bits of information I've been privy to are confidential, but for the most part I'd be pleased to discuss things. I know you've been in contact with manufacturers as well and I'd guess you might--and respect if you do--have some of the same restrictions. Outside of things we're not supposed to leak out, I'd be interested to compare notes. If you'd rather not do this, I'm OK with that too. You could contact me by PM or email if you're interested (or request that I contact you).

Radical as this may be, I think it may be possible for us to talk about WNS productively and without a fight. :big grin:

I guess I'll post this publicly rather than as a PM. There's nothing secret here...and I'd rather not have people thinking, "Bill and Eliah don't get along...it's too bad."
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby Spark85 » May 2, 2009 3:36 pm

Bill I always clean my gear after every trip in the washing machine with detergent and hot water. I clean my rope with a mild detergent. You stated somewhere that you clean with approx. 200 degree F H2O. I have no idea how hot my machine is and if it matters. I know some life is capable of living in boiling water. I am not trying to be technical as I will continue to clean my gear mostly because I am a clean freak. I wonder why I cave? Anyway does hot water and soap kill the fungus ie. has it been proven to be effective and how hot does the water need to be?
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby shibumi » May 3, 2009 3:36 pm

I know USENET is a bit dated, but this statement weathers the times:


"It was a typical day on USENET, an angry mob beating a greasy spot on the pavement where used to
lay the carcass of a dead horse."

This post, number 223, brought to you by the fine folks at the Mirza Ranch Gun Club.
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby Cheryl Jones » May 3, 2009 6:47 pm

:funny post: :rofl: :rofl:
Yup, that quote sill applies. Technology may change, but we the people don't! :laughing: :cavechat:

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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby Bill Putnam » May 4, 2009 9:20 pm

ek wrote:I think that as things stand now, it's pretty clear to everybody that 10% bleach poses a danger to ropes and harnesses that requires the attention of those using it.


No argument from me on this point, and I do not believe I have ever actually said otherwise. I do think you may have read more into some of my statements or posts than was actually present, by (for example) inferring that the absence of an admonition not to repeatedly bleach your gear was somehow the same as an endorsement of repeatedly bleaching your gear. On the contrary, I assumed that people would read the manufacturer's statements and call to clarify ambiguities (such as the PMI statements) for themselves, rather than relying on advice about life-safety practices offered from an Internet discussion board. To take such information on faith without independent verification would be foolish in the extreme.

ek wrote:I feel that a very important point, which is less clear from this discussion, is that we do not know for sure that bleach gets rid of the fungus when it's impregnated in clothing or caving gear--there are no published or otherwise publicly reported experimental results that say it does. Bleach has an excellent and deserved reputation for killing microbes, but the WNS fungus is weirdly resilient in a number of ways. I think it is important to understand that we do not yet have conclusive scientific evidence that bleaching is effective.


Again, no argument from me on this point. However, what I was actually saying was not that the 10% bleach method is guaranteed to be 100% effective (which is obviously untrue, as there are no guarantees) under all circumstances on all clothing and equipment that cound conceivable be used on a cave, but rather that it was reported (and believed by at least the authors of the original tests and reports) to be effective (in a qualitative, as opposed to quantitative sense, meaning that it's probably better than doing nothing) for decontamination of WNS-related Geomyces exposure.

Now, we are all aware that the testing has been limited and subject to disclaimers, and that it has not been repeated and verified to the degree necessary for complete assurance, and that not all types of clothing and equipment were tested. However, I did not think it was necessary to apply all these qualifiers and disclaimers as I assumed that the readers were at least intelligent enough to know these things. But perhaps I was mistaken about that. You seem to think so.

ek wrote:I'm not sure if this was intended, but I think the sense people have been getting from your recommendation that they decontaminate once with 10% bleach, and then use other methods forever after, is that it's possible to convert gear used in WNS areas into gear that can be responsibly used in unaffected areas by bleaching.


I believe you are misstating what I wrote, and I believe you have misinterpreted it and read much more into it than was actually stated or intended. Also, how can you possibly presume to know what "sense" people have gotten from my suggestions? All you know is what sense you got from them, and you are not the typical reader, since you are possessed of far more information than most people due to your intensive interest in and study of the issue. I believe that has colored your perception and caused you to read far more into my comments that was actually written. I believe you may have been "over-thinking" and over analyzing my comments.

I certainly did not intend them to be as broad and sweeping as you took them to be. But I do believe that it would be irresponsible not to at least decontaminate your gear if you think it might have been exposed. as was the case with my gear, which was in Clover Hollow Cave in 2007. Am I irresponsible for continuing to use my cleaned and bleach-decontaminated gear rather than discarding it and buying new gear? That is a matter of opinion, not fact, on which we may just have to disagree. Time will tell who is right and who is wrong on that point.

ek wrote:Bill, if you did not intend for people to understand your recommendation in this way, I would encourage you to clarify this for people. And if you did intend this meaning, I would encourage you to reconsider.


Ok, I will clarify. What I was saying (and am still saying) is this:

The best available information indicates that the most effective way currently known for attempting decontamination of caving equipment that might have been (but is not known to have been) exposed to Geomyces spores or WNS-related contamination is to first clean the equipment thoroughly and then soak the equipment for up to 10 minutes in a solution of 10% Clorox in water (1 part Clorox to 9 parts clean water), followed by a thorough rinse with clean water. It is safe to do this one time on ropes, harnesses, webbing, and other life-safety equipment made from nylon or polyester. It not safe to do this repeatedly and to excess on nylon and polyester life-safety equipment. It is safe to do this repeatedly on metal or plastic equipment,such as carabiners, rappel racks, maillons, helmets, litters,etc. whether used for life-safety applications or not. It is safe to do this repeatedly for non-life-safety equipment such as cave packs, coveralls, boots, and gloves, though repeated application of bleach may shorten the useful life of some equipment. It is not yet known whether the Geomyces fungus actually causes WNS or whether is is a secondary infection. It is not yet known whether or not the 10% bleach solution is fully effective for decontamination in all circumstances. However, it is the best available method presently known, and it is preferable to using dirty contaminated equipment in uncontaminated caves, or purchasing all-new equipment every time you go caving. Gear that is known to have been used in WNS-infected caves or sites should probably not be used in other caves. Abstinence from caving is the only sure method of avoiding cross-contamination, but we know that not everyone will choose to practice abstinence from caving, and that not everyone will discard or limit the use of gear based on possible but uncertain exposure. Given that some people will continue to cave and will not discard their dirty equipment and buy new equipment for each trip, those who suspect that their equipment may have been exposed to WNS-related contamination should consider cleaning their gear and decontaminating it with 10% bleach to reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination, and then cleaning gear with very hot soapy water and possibly Lysol or other nylon-safe disinfectants after each future caving trip. This should help to minimize the risk of accidental cross contamination. In any event, cavers should avoid entering known bat caves unless specifically tasked to do so for purposes of research, monitoring, or investigation sponsored by an authorized agency or organization, and should refrain from visiting any cave known to be a WNS site. They should also refrain from using gear known to have been used in a contaminated environment in an environment believed to be uncontaminated.

Now you may find that more satisfactory (though I am sure you or someone will find some points to object to even so, especially since I just wrote it off the top of my head and am not going to study and dissect it for days before posting it, as it is only an example) but I personally find it to be excessively detailed and wordy to the point of being insulting to the reader, because it seems to assume that he is a complete moron who needs every last detail spelled out in Technicolor. Perhaps I have a higher opinion of my fellow cavers than some, but I do not believe that is the case or that such detail is necessary or appropriate. I believe that most people are not so literal-minded and concrete-thinking as to get hung up on the simpler and more comprehensible versions that I and others have posted. But I digress.

The bottom line is that if you have dirty gear that has been in a cave now known to be contaminated with WNS (such as my gear) and you intend to keep using it in caves, it might be a good idea to clean it thoroughly, soak it in 10% Clorox, as recommended by manufacturers and researchers, rinse it thoroughly, and then clean it carefully after each future use, while avoiding WNS-infected caves and bat-roosting caves. It would be better to do that than to do nothing and keep using the dirty and possibly-contaminated gear.

But then, what do I know? I'm just another caver beating a greasy spot in the road.

If you think your gear might be contaminated, why not clean and decontaminate it, and then keep it clean in the future? What could that hurt? How hard would that be? Isn't that the least we can do as responsible cavers?

That's all I was saying. No more, no less. Don't over-think it.
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby Teresa » May 4, 2009 11:13 pm

Bill Putnam wrote:
... What I was saying (and am still saying) is this:

The best available information indicates that the most effective way currently known for attempting decontamination of caving equipment that might have been (but is not known to have been) exposed to Geomyces spores or WNS-related contamination is to first clean the equipment thoroughly and then soak the equipment for up to 10 minutes in a solution of 10% Clorox in water (1 part Clorox to 9 parts clean water), followed by a thorough rinse with clean water. It is safe to do this one time on ropes, harnesses, webbing, and other life-safety equipment made from nylon or polyester. It not safe to do this repeatedly and to excess on nylon and polyester life-safety equipment. It is safe to do this repeatedly on metal or plastic equipment,such as carabiners, rappel racks, maillons, helmets, litters,etc. whether used for life-safety applications or not. It is safe to do this repeatedly for non-life-safety equipment such as cave packs, coveralls, boots, and gloves, though repeated application of bleach may shorten the useful life of some equipment.


Safe for what? Chlorine Bleach degrades nylon and other fabrics (even natural ones). Period. Chlorine Bleach can make plastic brittle. Period. No amount of jaw flapping changes chemistry. (Read the little labels inside your clothes, and cave packs, etc., some time. This is why companies make hundreds of millions of dollars annually on non-chlorine bleach.)

I find it interesting that a much weaker bleach to water ratio (something like 8 drops or 1/8 teaspoon to a gallon of water) makes water safe to drink, but apparently is too weak to disinfect. Huh? So we get to drink fungus?

Saying something is "safe" is a matter of perspective. It is a good thing to be concerned about bats, and want to do decontam. Gear degradation is a trade-off. Some can afford it, some cannot. It's fine to say that adhering to the WNS protocol is an acceptable level of risk management. But I don't think anyone can say if it is safe or unsafe. That's a judgment call, not a yes or no fact.
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby Bill Putnam » May 5, 2009 12:47 am

Oh my God, Anmar - here we go again.

Of course safe is a matter of perspective. When I say "safe" I mean you won't get killed. You and others may mean something else - I have no idea. But whatever you do, please don't believe anything I say, or anything anyone else on this forum says. Read the manufacturer's instructions and advisories, and call them if you have questions. That's what you pay for when you buy their products.
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Bill Putnam
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Re: Official PMI Statement on 10% Bleach: NOT FOR WNS DECON

Postby ek » May 18, 2009 12:46 pm

Bill Putnam wrote:
ek wrote:I feel that a very important point, which is less clear from this discussion, is that we do not know for sure that bleach gets rid of the fungus when it's impregnated in clothing or caving gear--there are no published or otherwise publicly reported experimental results that say it does. Bleach has an excellent and deserved reputation for killing microbes, but the WNS fungus is weirdly resilient in a number of ways. I think it is important to understand that we do not yet have conclusive scientific evidence that bleaching is effective.

Again, no argument from me on this point. However, what I was actually saying was not that the 10% bleach method is guaranteed to be 100% effective (which is obviously untrue, as there are no guarantees) under all circumstances on all clothing and equipment that cound conceivable be used on a cave, but rather that it was reported (and believed by at least the authors of the original tests and reports) to be effective (in a qualitative, as opposed to quantitative sense, meaning that it's probably better than doing nothing) for decontamination of WNS-related Geomyces exposure.

Well, I do not agree with the claim that scientists studying WNS believe and have told us that bleach is effective at eliminating the WNS fungus from caving gear.

We know that 10% bleach kills the fungus when it's in a petri dish. Like I (and others) have said a number of times, that doesn't mean it's effective at killing it when it's impregnated in caving gear. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't.

We don't have anything approaching conclusive information to indicate that bleaching is more effective than other decontamination procedures, like washing in a washing machine or the use of other FWS-approved products. We do not know that bleach works any better than other FWS-approved (and some unapproved) procedures.

Bill Putnam wrote:
ek wrote:I'm not sure if this was intended, but I think the sense people have been getting from your recommendation that they decontaminate once with 10% bleach, and then use other methods forever after, is that it's possible to convert gear used in WNS areas into gear that can be responsibly used in unaffected areas by bleaching.

I believe you are misstating what I wrote, and I believe you have misinterpreted it and read much more into it than was actually stated or intended. Also, how can you possibly presume to know what "sense" people have gotten from my suggestions? All you know is what sense you got from them[...]

I don't think I'm misstating what you wrote. You told people to decontaminate with bleach. You then clarified to say that you did not believe they should do so more than once, but that you did believe people should continue decontaminating afterwards. The only way someone could follow your advice would be to decontaminate once with 10% bleach, and then use other methods forever after.

I presume to know what sense people have gotten from your suggestions by reading what people have said since you posted, and in reply to your posts. That is not an unreasonable presumption. But it is not perfect, either--it is possible that people are not drawing these ideas from anything you have said.

Regarding the possibility that I am misinterpreting what you wrote and reading much more into it than was actually stated or intended, take a look at this:
Clean your gear thoroughly and sterilize it as best you can in whatever way you feel is appropriate and come to the seminar.

That sounds like a statement that decontamination is effective enough that one can responsibly use gear from WNS areas in non-WNS areas after decontamination. In actuality, rather than all decontamination procedures being effective, we don't know that any decontamination procedure is effective.

I admit and agree that in bombarding people with large amounts of highly detailed information, I have not been as effective as I should have been in conveying the basics. But I think it's possible to convey the basics correctly and in a way that does not lead to misconception. Here's a try:

(1) WNS may be spreadable by humans, and there is no decontamination procedure that is known to work. Therefore, no clothing, equipment, or other items used caving in an area known to be affected by WNS should be used caving in an area believed not to be affected by WNS.
(2) Decontaminating is better, from a conservation perspective, than not decontaminating. Any cleaning is better than none. More effective dirt removal is better than less. The Fish & Wildlife Service has published a protocol indicating procedures they they believed are likely to be effective, as of the time the protocol was last revised. The protocol is constantly in flux. It is available here.
(3) Safety is paramount--use only procedures that your manufacturers have approved. Your manufacturers are the closest that there exists to an authority on what is safe for their products. If a procedure is included in the FWS protocol, that doesn't necessarily mean it's safe.

Finally, I think that many online forums, and in particular Cavechat, are serious media for discussion, and that a post on Cavechat that is well-reasoned and well-cited is as credible as an article in a grotto newsletter or the NSS news that is well-reasoned and well-cited. Of course, not every post will be like that. For instance, except for the FWS decontamination protocol, I have not cited any of the three cardinal claims I made above. But most articles in grotto newsletters and the NSS news aren't up to the level of being publishable in a technical journal either.
Eliah Kagan
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Syracuse University Outing Club

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ek
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