LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Mold can be a growing problem in the aftermath of floods and can be a health risk if you don't take care of it.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Kentucky Department of Public Health officials urge Kentuckians to take time and clean thoroughly before returning to flooded homes.
"People are anxious to get on with their lives after a flood, but some problems don't arise until later that may affect your home or your health," said Federal Coordinating Officer Doug Mayne, FEMA's top official in Kentucky for the July flooding disaster recovery.
Microscopic organisms are found everywhere and develop easily into mold in the presence of water or dampness. Mold discoloration comes in a variety of colors from white to orange and from green to brown or black. Whatever color, it characteristically gives off a musty or earthy smell.
Mayne urges residents and owners of flooded properties to take action now and not wait until FEMA inspectors arrive.
"Though mold is almost always present in the air, it grows best in damp areas where humidity levels
are high," said Guy Delius, director of the public health protection and safety division in the Commonwealth's Department for Public Health.
"The heavy rains throughout the Commonwealth in July caused flooding in several areas, and many homes experienced water damage. This is a concern for homeowners, not only because of damage to their homes, but because it also could lead to a mold problem if left untreated," Delius said.
Mold can become a problem in your home when there is enough moisture available to allow mold to thrive and multiply. Dampness in basements, walls, carpets and wood provide an environment for mold to flourish.
There is no practical way to eliminate all mold spores in the indoor environment. But there are many ways to help control moisture and mold growth. The basic rule is to identify any moisture sources if you can see or smell mold and to remove the mold before health problems develop.
The following are suggestions to help control mold:
- The source of mold is moisture; therefore fix all leaks in pipes and in any damp area around tubs and sinks.
- Rebuild, or retrofit, with water-resistant building materials such as tile, stone, deep-sealed concrete, galvanized or stainless steel hardware, indoor/outdoor carpeting, waterproof wallboard and water-resistant glues.
- Prevent seepage of water from outdoors into your house. It is important to have rainwater from gutters or roof drains away from the structure. Ground around the house should slope away to keep basements and crawl spaces dry.
- Cover dirt in crawl spaces with plastic to prevent moisture from coming up from the ground. Ventilate the area as much as possible.
- Clean fabrics such as curtains and upholstery often to keep them dry, because soil promotes mold growth.
- Consider having ductwork cleaned and inspected professionally or replaced if you suspect mold exists on the inside surface of the duct or if duct insulation has been wet.
- Reduce the moisture in the air with dehumidifiers, fans and open windows or air conditioners.
- Do not use fans or vacuum cleaners if mold already exists, especially in hot weather. A fan or vacuum cleaner will spread the mold spores.
- In moisture-prone areas, choose carpets of man-made fibers.
- Reduce potential for condensation on cold surfaces by insulating.
- Routinely check potential problem spots.
For additional safety tips, helpful links and information on this disaster, visit www.kyem.ky.gov.
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