Mold May Be Lurking In Flood-Damaged Homes

Main Content
Release date: 
September 22, 2010
Release Number: 
1935-023

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. –– If your home was affected in the recent flooding it could be harboring mold.

“People are anxious to get on with their lives after a flood, but if you had flood waters in your home take the time to clean thoroughly so problems don’t arise later that affect your home or your health,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Gregory Eaton from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Care must be taken to clean and completely dry any areas of the home that have gotten wet from floodwaters to prevent structural damage and adverse health effects from mold according to disaster recovery and health officials.

It’s also important to protect yourself during mold cleanup. Wear gloves and a mask, ventilate the area, and apply disinfectants to already cleaned materials.

Mold and Health Concerns

“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 Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold.

Mold growth is a common occurrence in flood-damaged homes and damp environments. Mold could become a problem in your home if there is enough moisture available to allow mold to thrive and multiply. Dampness in basements, walls, carpets, and wood provides an environment for mold to flourish.

Mold is made up of simple microscopic organisms that are found virtually everywhere.  It can often be seen in the form of discoloration, ranging from white to orange and from green to brown and black, and gives off a musty or earthy smell.

Exposure to mold can cause health problems. Infants, children, immune-compromised patients, pregnant women, individuals with existing respiratory conditions (allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity, and asthma) and the elderly appear to be at higher risks for adverse health effects from mold.

Health symptoms known to be associated with exposure to mold include nose and throat irritation, wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks in individuals who have asthma, and lower respiratory tract infections (in children).  People with pre-existing respiratory conditions may get worse.

Mold Prevention Tips

There is no practical way to eliminate all of the molds and mold spores in the indoor environment. But there are many ways to help control moisture and mold growth in your home. The basic rule is, if you can see or smell mold, take action before health problems develop.

Stop the Water
  • Fix leaks in pipes, and any damp area around tubs and sinks.
  • Rebuild, or retrofit, with water-resistant building materials.
  • Prevent seepage of water into your house. Keep roof drains away from the house.
  • Cover dirt in crawl spaces with plastic and ventilate the area as much as possible.
Keep It Clean
  • Clean fabrics, such as curtains and upholstery, often and keep them dry, because soil promotes mold growth.
  • Store clean fabric items in well-ventilated areas.
  • Consider having air ducts cleaned professionally if you suspect mold exists on the inside.
Keep It Dry
  • Reduce the moisture in the air with dehumidifiers, fans and open windows or air conditioners, especially in hot weather. Do NOT use fans if mold may already exist; a fan will spread the mold spores.
  • In moisture-prone areas, choose carpets of manmade fibers.
  • Reduce potential for condensation on cold surfaces by insulating.
Disinfect It
  • Routinely check potential problem spots like the basement, bathroom and laundry for mold odors.
  • Disinfect with a 10 per...
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
Back to Top