SALEM, Ore. -- Mold is one of the worst results of flood damage.
Mold usually develops following a flood or mudslide and may cause serious health problems. Oregon Emergency Management (OEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) agree it is important to inform the public about health hazards associated with mold, what can be done to minimize mold, and effective mold clean up methods.
If a home has water damage, mold can develop in as little as 24 - 48 hours of water exposure. Even worse, it may continue to grow until steps are taken to thoroughly dry a structure and eliminate the source of moisture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mold may be recognized by the sight of wall and ceiling discoloration, and a musty, earthy odor.
"Although you may think your property does not have mold, when water gets into a structure mold can germinate quickly.? We urge you not to delay the clean up process," said Glen R. Sachtleben, federal coordinating officer.? "It's also important to consult your physician if you think you have been affected by exposure to mold."
Even though mold is a naturally existing substance, it can be harmful to humans. When airborne mold spores are present in large quantities, inhaling them can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections, and other respiratory problems.
Continued exposure to mold may result in nasal or sinus congestion, eye, nose, or throat irritations, and adverse effects to the nervous system.
Infants and children, the elderly, those with immune-compromised related diseases, pregnant women, and those with existing respiratory conditions are at the greatest risk. Anyone falling into these categories should consult a physician if they are experiencing health problems.
?Follow these five steps to dry your home and combat health problems associated with mold:
- Open up the house-if the humidity outside is lower than indoors, and if the weather permits, open all the doors and windows to exchange the moist indoor air for drier outdoor air. If you have a thermometer with a humidity gauge, you can monitor the indoor and outdoor humidity. On the other hand, when temperatures drop at night, an open home is warmer and will draw moisture indoors. At night and other times when the humidity is higher outdoors, close up the house.
- Open closet and cabinet doors-remove drawers to allow air circulation. Drawers may stick because of swelling. Don't try to force them. Speed up the drying process by opening the back of the cabinet to let the air circulate. You will probably be able to remove the drawers as the cabinet dries out.
- Use fans-fans help move the air and dry out the home. They will blow out dirty air that might contain contaminants from sediment in the duct work; clean or hose out any ducts. Do not use central air conditioning or the furnace blower if the ducts were under water.
- Run dehumidifiers-dehumidifiers and window air conditioners will reduce the moisture, especially in closed up areas. Make sure dehumidifiers are drained to the outside of the structure.
- Use desiccants-desiccants (materials that absorb moisture) such as silica gel are very useful in drying closets or other enclosed areas where air cannot move through. These types of materials may be purchased at hardware stores, boating supply store or home and garden stores.
If mold becomes an issue in your household, here are some of the ways to clean it out:
- Most household cleaners will be good enough to cleanse walls and w...