Some acoustic ceiling tiles are made of absorbent materials like wood or mineral fibers. They are susceptible to water or moisture damage as a result of flood, high humidity, or leaky roofs. If left unaddressed, excess moisture can lead to mold growth--a serious risk of major health problems exist when mold growth is not remediated.
The primary function of acoustic ceiling tiles is sound absorption. They are commonly used in commercial and industrial buildings like offices and schools but can be found in many homes across the country. They are available in various sizes, shapes, and designs. Most often they are composed of combinations of porous wood or mineral fibrous materials. Their ability to absorb sound is almost equal to their ability to absorb moisture.
Molds can inflict havoc on our homes as they digest the building materials used for construction. There are more than 100,000 kinds of molds, or fungi, whose job in nature is to decompose organic remains. Mold spores eat, reproduce, and destroy, in areas where moisture is available. They can attach themselves to almost any surface but prefer areas where chronic moisture exists. Mold spores can enter our bodies through inhalation after being disturbed. Absorption through the skin can occur when touching things with mold, and ingestion can occur by eating foods containing mold spores. Ingestion can also take place when fingers are accidentally placed into the mouth after contact with mold spores.
Among the most common molds found in the United States are alternaria, cladosporium, aspergillus, penicillium, helminthosporium, epicoccum, fusarium, mucor, rhizopus, and aureobasidium. Mycotoxins are byproducts of the process of metabolism, produced by specific molds. Aflatoxin is a mycotoxin, and the product of the molds penicillium, aspergillus flavus, and aspergillus parasiticus. A particular strain of aflatoxin, known as B1, is the most prevalent, toxic, and carcinogenic, in comparison to other aflatoxins. Other highly dangerous mycotoxins include zearalenone, trichothecenes, and moniliformin and are products of various species of fusarium mold.
Mold spores enter our homes from outside every time the door is opened. They deposit themselves on any available surface and, once attached, they will try to reproduce. Reproduction takes place only in excessively moist conditions and, by controlling moisture, you can control mold growth.
If you have asthma or allergies you will be more susceptible to health problems associated with mold exposure. If you have a lung disease or other diseases whose treatments leave your immune system compromised, a serious risk of infections from mold exists.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Sherrie Thai
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