ESSINGTON, Pa. -- Disaster recovery and health officials warn that victims of recent flooding should clean flood-damaged homes thoroughly to avoid possible health problems from mold and mildew.
Mold growth is common in flood-damaged homes. It is important to clean and dry completely any areas that have gotten wet. Mold often appears in the form of discoloration, from white to orange, green, brown and black. Mold also gives off a musty or earthy smell.
"People are eager to get on with their lives after a flood, but if you had flood waters in your home we encourage you to take the time to clean thoroughly so problems don't arise later that affect your home or your health," Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Coordinating Officer Tom Davies said. “Don’t wait until an inspector comes to your home to clean. We would like folks to make their homes safe, sanitary and secure as soon as possible.”
State Coordinating Officer David M. Sanko added, “It is important to quickly identify and correct any moisture sources before health problems develop. Infants, children, immune-compromised patients, pregnant women, individuals with existing respiratory conditions, (allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity and asthma) and the elderly may 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
- Nasal and sinus congestion and shortness of breath
- Eyes - burning, watery, reddened, blurry vision, light sensitivity
- Dry, hacking cough and sore throat
- Skin irritation, aches and pains and possible fever
- Central nervous system problems (constant headaches, memory problems, and mood changes)
For more information, residents should consult their county health departments for proper cleanup procedures.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.