LINCOLN, Neb. -- Mold growing in recently flooded buildings can cause health problems, state and federal emergency management officials warn Nebraska residents.
Water-damaged rooms are moist environments ideal for mold to flourish. People with respiratory problems such as allergies or asthma should not spend time in houses that might contain mold. Mold often is visible as a fuzzy growth or discoloration on surfaces. It usually has a musty, earthy odor.
Those sensitive to mold spores may experience wheezing, difficulty breathing, nasal and sinus congestion, burning and watering eyes, dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or skin irritation.
Mold can cause significant health problems. It is urgent that residents and business owners clean their homes and work environments as quickly as possible and not risk serious, long-lasting health effects.
Specialists offer the following suggestions to ensure safe, effective cleanup:
- Have professionals check heating/cooling ducts and wall insulation for mold growth. If the system has mold inside, it will spread mold throughout the house.
- Wash all items that came in contact with floodwaters with a chlorine bleach solution.
- Open windows for ventilation and wear boots, rubber gloves and clothing that fully cover arms and legs and use an N-95 rated mask.
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners.
- Mix no more than one cup of bleach in one gallon of water.
- Most antiseptics, including chlorine, are toxic to humans -- rinse the skin quickly and thoroughly if there is accidental contact with the solution.
- Remember, chlorine bleach is no longer effective when the chlorine smell disappears.
- Use a fan in front of open windows or doors to help with the drying process, but it is important that fans blow outward, rather than inward to avoid spreading the mold.
- Throw away all moldy items that cannot be thoroughly cleaned. If in doubt, throw it out. This includes carpets, mattresses, upholstered furniture, stuffed animals, pillows, wall coverings and all paper products.
- Take out any drywall or insulation that has been dampened by floodwater.
- If there is more than a 10 square foot area of mold in a building, consider using a professional mold clean-up contractor.
The Web site, www.nema.ne.gov offers "Flooding Resources for Nebraska Citizens," a site that includes links to resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Center for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services, and other agencies.
FEMA also now offers m.fema.gov that allows web-enabled mobile phone users access to federal Web resources.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.