Flooded Homes May Harbor Mold

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Release date: 
September 29, 2004
Release Number: 
1549-016

MOBILE, Ala.-- Disaster officials from the U. S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state of Alabama are advising residents whose home and businesses were affected by Hurricane Ivan to be on the lookout for harmful mold growth.

WHAT IS MOLD?

  • Molds are simple microscopic organisms found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Porous materials can trap molds. Water-damaged carpets, wallboard, insulation, padding, and upholstery are materials that are favorable for mold growth. These items and other porous materials may need to be thrown away if they were saturated with water and mold has begun to grow. Harder materials such as glass, plastic and metal can be kept after they are cleaned and disinfected.

WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT MOLD IN MY HOME?

  • When airborne mold spores are present in large numbers they can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections, and other respiratory problems. Consult a doctor if symptoms develop.

WHO IS AT GREATEST HEALTH RISK WHEN EXPOSED TO MOLD?

  • 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

GENERAL MOLD CLEAN-UP PROCEDURES

  • Be aware that exposure to mold can occur during removal and cleanup.
  • Wear breathing mask or respirator, wear rubber gloves and take breaks in a well- ventilated area.
  • Identify and correct moisture source. Remove all water and fix any leaks.
  • Remove porous mold-covered materials (examples: ceiling tiles, drywall, carpeting, and wood products).
  • Throw away carpeting and other materials with heavy mold covering and odor
  • If drywall is flooded, remove all drywall to at least 12 inches above the high water mark.

SOAP CLEANUP

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

HOW TO DISINFECT SURFACES

  • After thorough cleaning and rinsing, disinfect the area with a solution of 10% household bleach (1-1/4cup bleach per gallon of water).
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia - the fumes are toxic!
  • Let disinfected areas dry naturally overnight.
  • Bag and dispose any material with moldy residue, such as rags, paper, leaves or debris.

WHERE TO GET HELP

For further information, contact your county health department or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at 1-800-438-4318.

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.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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