Simple Steps Can Reduce Health Hazardous Mold in Storm-Damaged Homes

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Release date: 
September 26, 2011
Release Number: 
4023-010

WINDSOR, Conn. -- It is important to clean, disinfect and completely dry areas in your storm-affected home to reduce the risk of mold spores that can cause health hazards or structural damage.

Mold is a necessary part of the environment; without it, leaves would not decay and aspects of soil enrichment could not happen. However, nose and throat irritation, wheeze, cough, asthma and lower respiratory tract infection are just a few of the symptoms mold can cause, particularly among the elderly, infants, children, pregnant women and individuals with compromised immune systems or existing respiratory conditions.

There are simple ways to reduce mold. 

Clean

  • Check for mold in the bathroom, basement, laundry and other potential problem areas.
  • Take things outside that were wet for two or more days. They have mold growing on them, even if you can't see it.
  • Clean curtains, carpets and upholsteries often.
  • Store cleaned fabric in well-ventilated areas.
  • Consider having air ducts professionally-cleaned, especially if you suspect mold exists on the inside surface of the duct or if duct insulation has been wet.

Disinfect

  • Use a 10 percent solution of no more than one cup bleach to one gallon water to disinfect hard surfaces such as floors, stoves, sinks, certain toys, countertops, flatware, plates or tools, adhering to the following guidelines:
    • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners;
    • Wear rubber boots, gloves, goggles and mask;
    • Disinfect in ventilated areas, opening windows and doors when weather permits;
    • Rinse and dry items thoroughly.

Dry

  • Use dehumidifiers, fans, open windows or air conditioners to keep humidity below 40 percent, especially in hot weather. Do NOT use fans if mold may already exist; a fan could spread mold spores.
  • In moisture-prone areas, choose carpets made with man-made fibers.
  • Insulate to reduce condensation potential.
  • Fix leaks in pipes, and any damp area around tubs and sinks, so mold spores don't have a growing environment.
  • Rebuild or retrofit, using water-resistant building materials such as tile, stone, deep-sealed concrete, galvanized or stainless steel hardware, indoor/outdoor carpeting, waterproof wallboard or water-resistant glues.
  • Prevent water seepage from outdoors by installing or reinforcing rain spouts.
  • Cover dirt in crawl spaces with plastic to prevent moisture from coming from the ground; ventilate the area as much as possible.

More mold removal guidelines are posted on the Internet:

The Conn. Department of Public Health recommends the following guidelines: www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/environmental_health/eoha/pdf/Get_The_Mold_Out.pdf

For a printable brochure on mold prevention and cleanup, visit FEMA's Preparation and Prevention Web page: www.fema.gov/pdf/rebuild/recover/fema_mold_brochure_english.pdf

Follow FEMA online at twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

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Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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