Charleston, WV -- West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is urging residents to be very cautious when removing mold from flood-damaged homes and buildings.
Mold spores are always present, but the excessive moisture left by the recent floods and the warm weather cause the spores to germinate. When present in large numbers, spores may trigger allergic reactions, asthma episodes, pulmonary infections and other respiratory problems. Nearly anyone can be affected if they breathe enough spores.
Mold and mildew will grow in any surface that is wet: dry wall, carpeting, wallpaper and some paints. All of these items, even mattresses and stuffed toys, should be disposed of. Clothing and bedding can be washed with detergent.
If mold can be detected by sight or smell, the sources of the mold-generating moisture should be located and eliminated. The infested area should then be cleaned, disinfected and dried. Non-ammonia soap or detergent and hot water will do the job. All contaminated surfaces should be thoroughly scrubbed, masonry walls with a stiff brush. And all objects should be rinsed with clean water.
After cleaning, applying a solution of household bleach to the surfaces will complete the process of killing the mold. The bleach solution should then dry for six to eight hours.
Dr. Henry Taylor, State Health Commissioner, recommends wearing a respirator, coveralls, gloves and goggles when cleaning. "Ventilate the area well before entering. Clean yourself well with disinfectant soap when you are done," he urged.