Flooded Homes May Harbor Mold Problem

Main Content
Release date: 
September 25, 1999
Release Number: 
1297-01a

This release provides information for people who have experienced water damage to their home and presents the health concerns related to mold exposure. It also provides general guidelines for mold detection, cleanup; removal of mold-contaminated materials.

Please note: people experiencing adverse reactions to mold exposure should consult a physician.

NEW CASTLE, Del. --

MOLD - WHAT IS IT?

Molds are simple microscopic organisms found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. When molds are present in large quantities they can cause allergic symptoms similar to those caused by plant pollen.

SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT MOLD IN MY HOME?

Yes, if the contamination is extensive. When airborne mold spores are present in large numbers they can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections, and other respiratory problems.

WHO IS AT GREATEST RISK WHEN EXPOSED TO MOLD?

The following individuals appear to be at higher risk for adverse health affects from molds:

  • Infants and children
  • Elderly
  • Immune compromised individuals (people with HIV infection, liver disease, in chemotherapy, etc.)
  • Pregnant women
  • Individuals with existing respiratory conditions such as allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity, and asthma
  • People with these conditions should consult a physician if they are experiencing health problems.

GENERAL MOLD CLEAN-UP PROCEDURES

  • Identify and correct the moisture source.
  • Clean, disinfect, and dry the moldy area.
  • Bag and dispose of any material that has moldy residue, such as rags, paper, leaves or debris.

WHAT CAN I SAVE? WHAT SHOULD I TOSS?

Porous materials can trap molds. Items such as paper, rags, wallboard and rotten wood should be thrown out. Harder materials such as glass, plastic and metal can be kept after they are cleaned and disinfected.

REMOVING MOLDY MATERIALS

  • Wear protective gloves, such as rubber dishwashing gloves.
  • Remove porous materials (ex: ceiling tiles, drywall, carpeting, wood products).
  • Carpeting can be a difficult problem - drying does not remove the dead spores. If there is heavy mold, disposal of the carpet should be considered.
  • Allow areas to dry 2 to 3 days before replacing damaged materials
  • If flooded, remove all drywall to at least 12 inches above the high water mark.

SOAP CLEANUP

  • Wear protective gloves
  • Use non-ammonia soap or detergent, or a commercial cleaner in hot water. Scrub the entire area affected by the mold.
  • Use a stiff brush or cleaning pad.
  • Rinse with clean water.

DISINFECT SURFACES

  • Wear protective gloves when using disinfectants.
  • After thorough cleaning and rinsing, disinfect the area with a solution of 10% household bleach (1 1/2 cups bleach per gallon of water).
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia - the fumes are toxic!
  • Let disinfecting areas dry naturally overnight to kill all the mold.

Be aware that exposure to mold can occur during cleanup. To minimize exposure, consider using a breathing mask or respirator, wear rubber gloves and take breaks in a well-ventilated area.

This News Release was edited on June 27, 2005...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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