MADISON, Wis. -- If your home was affected in the recent rainstorms and flooding it could be harboring mold because of the continuing damp weather. People who had water damage should thoroughly clean and completely dry any areas of the home that may have gotten wet to prevent mold growth, warn recovery officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM).
Mold and Health Concerns
Mold growth is a common occurrence in flood-damaged homes and damp environments. Mold could become a problem in your home if there is enough moisture available to allow mold to thrive and multiply. Dampness in basements, walls, carpets, and wood provides an environment for mold to flourish.
Mold is made up of simple microscopic organisms that are found virtually everywhere. It can often be seen in the form of discoloration, ranging from white to orange and from green to brown and black, and gives off a musty or earthy smell.
Exposure to mold can cause health problems. Infants, children, immune-compromised patients, pregnant women, individuals with existing respiratory conditions, (allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity, and asthma) and the elderly appear to be at higher risks for adverse health effects from mold.
Allergic reactions may be the most common health problem of mold exposure. Typical symptoms reported (alone or in combination) include: respiratory problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in breathing, eye irritations such as burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity, dry hacking cough, skin irritation, central nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory problems, and mood changes), aches and pains, and possible fever.
Mold Prevention Tips
There is no practical way for you to eliminate all of the molds and mold spores in the indoor environment. But there are many ways to help control moisture and mold growth in your home. The basic rule is, if you can see or smell mold, take steps to eliminate the excess moisture, and to cleanup and remove the mold. It is important to quickly identify and correct any moisture sources before health problems develop.
Stop the Water
- Fix leaks in pipes, and any damp area around tubs and sinks, so mold spores don’t have a growing environment
- Rebuild, or retrofit, with water-resistant building materials such as tile, stone, deep-sealed concrete, galvanized or stainless steel hardware, indoor/outdoor carpeting, waterproof wallboard, water-resistant glues and so on
- Prevent seepage of water from outdoors into your house. It’s important to have rainwater from gutters or the roof drain away from the house. Ground around the house needs to slope away to keep basement and crawl space dry
- Cover dirt in crawl spaces with plastic to prevent moisture from coming from the ground. Ventilate the area as much as possible
Keep It Clean
- Clean fabrics, such as curtains and upholstery, often and keep them dry, because soil promotes mold growth
- Store clean fabric items in well-ventilated areas
- Consider having air ducts cleaned professionally if you suspect mold exists on the inside surface of the duct or if duct insulation has been wet
Keep It Dry
- Reduce the moisture in the air with dehumidifiers, fans and open windows or air conditioners, especially in hot weather. Do NOT use fans if mold may already exist; a fan will spread the mold spores
- Try to keep the humidity in your home below 40%
- In moisture-prone areas, choose carpets of man-made fibers