What Wood Destroying Fungus Are
Wood Destroying Fungi are organisms that may be found indoors and outdoors. They are part of the natural environment and play an important role in the environment by breaking down and digesting organic material, such as dead leaves. Also called fungi or mildew, Wood Destroying Fungus are neither plants nor animals; they are part of the kingdom Fungi.
Wood Destroying Fungus can multiply by producing microscopic spores (2-100 microns in diameter), similar to the seeds produced by plants. Many spores are so small they easily float through air and can be carried for great distances by even the gentlest breezes. The number of Wood Destroying Fungus spores suspended in indoor and outdoor air fluctuates from season to season, day to day, and even hour to hour.
Wood Destroying Fungus spores are ubiquitous; they are found both indoors and outdoors. Wood Destroying Fungus spores cannot be eliminated from indoor environments. Some Wood Destroying Fungus spores will be found floating through the air and in settled dust; however, they will not grow if moisture is not present.
What Wood Destroying Fungus Needs to Grow
To grow indoors, Wood Destroying Fungus needs moisture and food. Moisture is the most important factor influencing Wood Destroying Fungus growth indoors. Controlling indoor moisture helps limit its growth.
Health Effects That May Be Caused by Inhaling Wood Destroying Fungus or Wood Destroying Fungus Spores
Inhalation exposure to Wood Destroying Fungus indoors can cause adverse health effects in some people. Wood Destroying Fungus produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances or chemicals (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching Wood Destroying Fungus or Wood Destroying Fungus spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Wood Destroying Fungus does not have to be alive to cause an allergic reaction. Dead or alive, Wood Destroying Fungus can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Allergic Reactions, Asthma Attacks, Irritant Effects
Allergic reactions to Wood Destroying Fungus are common and can be immediate or delayed. Repeated or single exposure to Wood Destroying Fungus, Wood Destroying Fungus spores, or Wood Destroying Fungus fragments may cause non-sensitive individuals to become sensitive to it, and repeated exposure has potential to increase sensitivity. Allergic responses include hay fever-like symptoms such as headache, sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Wood Destroying Fungi can cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to it. In addition, Wood Destroying Fungi can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of individuals whether or not the are allergic.
Other Health Effects
Breathing in Wood Destroying Fungus spores may also cause Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, and uncommon disease that resembles bacterial pneumonia. In addition, Wood Destroying Fungus exposure may result in opportunistic infections in persons whose immune systems are weakened or suppressed.
When Wood Destroying Fungus grows indoors, the occupants of a building may begin to report odors and a variety of symptoms including headaches, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and aggravated asthma systems. These and other symptoms may be associated with exposure to Wood Destroying Fungus. But all of these symptoms may be caused by other exposures or conditions unrelated to its growth. Therefore, it is important not to assume that, whenever any of these symptoms occurs, it is the cause.
For more detailed information on Wood Destroying Fungus and its health effects, consult a health professional. You may also wish to consult your state or local health department.
Although it is frequently found in damp buildings, it is not the only potential contaminant - biological contaminants other than Wood Destroying Fungus, and non-biological contaminants are often present and may also cause health effects. Damp buildings may attract rodents and other pests. Damp or wet building components and furnishings may release chemicals indoors.
Potential contaminants in damp and wet buildings include bacteria, dust mites, cockroaches and other pests, as well as chemicals emitted by damp building materials and furnishings.
Mycotoxins and Health Effects
As wood destroying fungi grow, some (but not all) of them produce potentially toxic by-products called mycotoxins under some conditions. Some of these are commonly found in moisture-damaged building. More than 200 mycotoxins from common fungi have been identified, and more remain to be identified. The amount and types of mycotoxins produced by a particular fungi depends on many environmental and genetic factors. No one can tell whether a it is producing mycotoxins just by looking at it. Some mycotoxins are known to affect people, but for many mycotoxins little health information is available. Research on mycotoxins is ongoing. Exposure to mycotoxins can occur from inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact. It is prudent to avoid unnecessary inhalation exposure.
For more information on mycotoxins, see the 2004 Institute of Medicine Report, "Damp Indoor Spaces and Health", published by The National Academies Press in Washington, DC, and available on the Web.
Wood Destroying Fungus Growth
Wood Destroying Fungus can grow on virtually any organic material as long as moisture and oxygen are present. There are fungi that grow on wood, paper, carpet, food, and insulation. Because it eats or digests what it is growing on, it can damage a building and its furnishings. If left unchecked, eventually it can cause structural damage to building materials.
Wood Destroying Fungus gradually destroy the things they grow on. You can prevent damage to buildings and building contents, save money, and avoid potential health problems by controlling moisture and eliminating its growth.
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