Mold Can Damage Home And Health

Main Content
Release date: 
July 19, 2002
Release Number: 
1419-40

Moorhead, MN -- Mold has emerged as a by-product of the recent flooding in Minnesota. Mold can cause problems for your home as well as your health. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Minnesota Division of Emergency Management, and the Minnesota Department of Health want you to safely remove the mold in your home and be aware of potential health risks, especially to those who are mold-sensitive.

Checking For Mold

You can tell if you have mold in your home if you can see it, or if there is an earthy or musty odor. Visible mold growth can be found under water-damaged surfaces, or behind walls. Look for discoloration and cracking walls.
You should be concerned about mold in your home if you can see it or smell it. Mold can also cause structural damage to your home. Similarly, when wood becomes soaked it can warp when it dries and cause walls to crack or become weaker.

Mold can become a problem in your home if there is enough moisture to allow mold to thrive and multiply. Dampness from flooding can get in walls, carpets, and wood. This moisture provides an excellent environment for mold to multiply. Mold is especially attracted to paper products such as wallboard used in many homes.

Mold And Your Health

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold growth in water-damaged homes can create a potential health hazard. There is always a little mold everywhere - in the air and on many surfaces. Mold exposure doesn't always present a health problem; but for those who are sensitive, mold spores can bring on allergic symptoms such as:

  • Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in breathing
  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Burning and watering eyes
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Sore throat
  • Nose and throat irritation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin irritation

Seek medical attention if you experience any of the above symptoms.

Treating Mold In Your Home

Before beginning work on a flooded home, make sure the electricity is turned off. Wear a dust mask and gloves while cleaning and follow these cleaning steps:

  • Identify and remove any sources of moisture.
  • Begin drying any and all materials that got wet.
  • Remove and dispose of mold-contaminated materials.
  • Clean non-porous or semi-porous items.
  • Disinfect surfaces by mixing 1/4 to 1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water and apply to surfaces where mold growth was visible before cleaning. Apply with a spray bottle, garden sprayer, sponge or other suitable method.
  • When disinfecting heavily soiled surfaces, it is important to change the disinfecting solution frequently to ensure effectiveness. It should be changed when it becomes cloudy.
  • Allow the treated surfaces to dry naturally and use fans or air conditioning to speed up the drying process

You can reduce the incidence of mold growth by reducing the humidity, lowering the temperature of your home, and ventilating bath and cooking areas. Also, av...

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