SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security?s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warns residents of flood-damaged homes that mold can create potential health problems.
Water-damaged homes provide a moist environment for mold to flourish. It is often visible as a fuzzy growth or a discoloration of surfaces. It may be accompanied by a musty, earthy odor or a foul stench. Residents are advised to use care when cleaning up the mold.
"Mold is a significant problem after flooding and proper cleanup is critical to ensure it doesn't affect you or your family's health," said Federal Coordinating Officer Justin Dombrowski.
If there is more than 10 square feet of mold in a building, consider using a professional mold clean-up contractor. In cleaning a home or other structure, begin by removing all standing water and drying out the building as soon as possible.
Fans at open windows or doors can be used to help with the drying out process, but they should blow outward, rather than inward, to avoid spreading the mold. Do not use an air conditioning system until it has been checked by a professional. If the system has mold inside using it will spread the mold throughout the house.
Throw away all moldy items that cannot be cleaned. Remember, ?When in doubt, throw it out!? This includes carpets, mattresses, upholstered furniture, stuffed animals, pillows, wall coverings and all paper products. Take out drywall and insulation that?s been dampened by floodwater.
Make sure to wear a filtered face mask, rubber gloves, goggles, rubber boots or other protective footwear, and clothing that fully cover arms and legs.
Clean all hard surfaces. Scrub mold off of hard surfaces with a stiff brush and a mixture of one cup of bleach to one gallon of water. NEVER MIX BLEACH WITH AMMONIA or products containing ammonia!
People with respiratory problems should not spend time in houses with mold. Some people are sensitive to mold. For them, mold can causes nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation. People with mold allergies may have more severe reactions. Immune-compromised people and people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may get serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold. These people should stay away from areas that are likely to have mold.
For more information on mold or mold clean-up, visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website at http://www.cdc.gov/mold/cleanup.htm
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.