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Scientists describe roof as 'slimy'

HOUSTON -- Minute Maid Park's roof is a breeding ground for
a group of molds known as Aspergillus -- the same type of mold that
festers on overripe oranges.

The Harris County-Houston Sports Authority recently hired a
private lab to determine what was growing on the thin, white
plastic roof of the $250 million ballpark.

Scientists testing the roof Sept. 12 found the run-of-the-mill
grocery store mold along with a mixture of common yeast, bacteria
and unidentified fungi.

They described the roof as "slimy," and found evidence that
some mold was growing and multiplying.

Further tests will determine the specific species and whether
the growth is affecting the roof material.

"We had to first figure out what was up there," Oliver Luck,
the chief executive officer of the Harris County-Houston Sports
Authority, told the Houston Chronicle for its Friday editions.

Before the authority and the Houston Astros knew what was
growing on the roof, they filed a warranty claim with the
manufacturer, GenFlex Roofing Systems of Maumee, Ohio, saying the
roofing material was advertised as resistant to microbial attack.

GenFlex officials have conducted their own testing and have
offered to clean the roof for free.

Since May, the company and the Astros have struggled over how
best to restore the roof to its original white condition.

Experts say the next step is to determine what the organisms are
feeding on.

The roof hasn't been cleaned since the stadium opened in March
2000.

The baseball team leases the park for $3.4 million a year and is
responsible for its maintenance.

Many of the molds detected on Minute Maid, identified loosely
through a microscope, are as common in Houston as humidity,
according to experts contacted by the newspaper.