PHOENIX, Ariz -- The mold that flourishes after a home is flooded is more than just an unpleasant nuisance. It can affect health and even lead to serious illness. That is why Arizonans should be prepared to act quickly whenever water – whether it’s a flood, sewage backup or leaky pipes – enters their homes and creates the right environment for mold, mildew and bacteria growth.
Disaster recovery and health officials note that flooded homes need a thorough cleaning to prevent mold and mildew from spreading and becoming a health threat.
“Anytime Arizona experiences a heavy rainy season like this one, residents need to know what to do to rid themselves of mold to protect their health,” Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Coordinating Officer Sandy Coachman said.
When airborne mold spores are present in large numbers, they can trigger allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections and other respiratory problems. Infants, children, immune compromised patients, pregnant women, the elderly and individuals with existing respiratory conditions appear to be at higher risks for adverse health effects from mold. In addition, exposure can cause development of an allergy to mold, resulting in long-term problems.
Dampness in basements, walls, carpets and wood caused by any type of flooding provides an environment for mold to flourish. If you can see or smell mold, take steps to eliminate the excess moisture and to clean up and remove the mold as soon as possible.
Look for mold growth throughout the house, including the attic, basement and crawlspaces. Have professionals check for mold growth in areas that are difficult to reach, such as heating/cooling ducts and wall insulation. Wash all items that came in contact with floodwaters with a household chlorine bleach solution of ¼ cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Leave the bleach solution on the item for at least 15 minutes before rinsing off with clean water.
When using a bleach solution, open windows and wear rubber gloves. If you have any questions, call your local health department.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and effectively manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.