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Moisture and Dry Rot Implicated in Fatal Balcony Collapse in Berkeley

South Pasadena, CA – WEBWIRE

Last month, six people tragically lost their lives when a balcony collapsed in Berkeley, California.  The apartment building where the event occurred was less than ten years old, but initial reports from inspectors form the Berkeley Building and Safety Division indicate the balcony’s severed joists appear to have suffered from decay and dry rot. 
Dry rot is caused by fungi that digest components of wood.  The term “dry rot” is a misnomer as the fungi require moisture to grow.  Wood makes for an ideal food source for many types of fungi. Some fungi, commonly referred to as mold, can quickly begin to grow on or in wood materials when there is sufficient moisture and temperatures that are conducive for its growth. 
Mold is primarily found growing on the surface of wood.  This is commonly the case when there has been a water-damaging event in a building caused by a leaking pipe, elevated humidity or some type of flood. The mold may be easily visible and may cause staining. When mold is growing on the surface of the wood, it may become aerosolized and cause indoor air quality (IAQ) and health concerns for building occupants.
There are other types of fungi that not only use the wood as a food source, but also cause decay and structural damage by breaking down the wood fibers. Some species will attack living trees and others consume dead wood that has been used to construct buildings.  These wood decay fungi are classified based on the type of decay they cause.  The most well-known types include brown rot, white rot and soft rot.
“As the tragedy in Berkeley so clearly reminded us all, wood decay fungi can cause extensive structural damage,” said Jason Dobranic, Ph.D., Vice President of Microbiology and Life Sciences at LA Testing and EMSL Analytical, Inc.  “At LA Testing, we provide laboratory services to test for mold and wood decay fungi.  Our Products Division also offers a wide range of moisture meters and thermal imaging cameras that can be instrumental in identifying moisture damage and water intrusion in buildings that could lead to the growth of wood decay and surface fungi.”
LA Testing has sponsored an online video about wood decay, rot and surface fungi that can be seen at:
To learn more about testing for fungi or to access a comprehensive range of moisture and building inspection equipment, please visit, email or call (800) 755-1794. 
About LA Testing
LA Testing is California’s leading laboratory for indoor air quality testing of asbestos, mold, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash and smoke damage, particulates and other chemicals.  In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the general public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: AIHA LAP LLC., AIHA ELLAP, AIHA EMLAP and AIHA IHLAP, CDC ELITE, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health and other states.  LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Garden Grove, San Leandro and San Diego.


 dry rot hazards
 mold testing
 fungi testing
 wood decay fungi
 moisture damage

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