PURVIS, Miss. – As Mississippians clean up from the recent storms, tornadoes, and flooding, some will have to deal with mold before returning home. Mold can be a health hazard; it can also cause structural damage.
It’s important to recognize mold and to remove it safely before moving back into or repairing a residence.
Mold needs three things to spread: a food source (paper, wood, leaves etc.), moisture, and a place to grow. People can have severe reactions to mold. Those with asthma, allergies and other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold. People with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to infections caused by mold.
Mold also can cause structural damage. When wood gets wet and moldy and then dries, it can warp. Walls can crack and the building can weaken.
Quick action can minimize health risks and damage caused by mold – and stop its spread:
- Open windows and doors and use fans to dry out the building. If possible, use wet vacuums to remove water and use dehumidifiers in closed spaces.
- Remove baseboards and soaked drywall to a foot above the watermark and discard. Drain walls by drilling holes or pulling non-porous paneling away from the studs. Check the inside of wallsfor mold.
- Wash hard, non-absorbent surfaces (metal, glass, solid wood, plastic) with non-ammonia detergent and hot water. Scrub rough surfaces such as concrete. Disinfect all cleaned surfaces with a solution of water and bleach; rinse with water after 10 minutes.
- Remove absorbent materials that have been wet for more than 48 hours and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. That includes carpets and padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation, leather, wood, paper, food and clothing.
- When in doubt throw it out!
If the area to be cleaned is larger than 10 square feet or if assistance is required to complete cleanup, consult a professional contractor.
The basic rule is: if you can see or smell mold, eliminate the excess moisture then, cleanup and remove the mold.
Be safe during cleanup:
- Never mix bleach with ammonia; the fumes are toxic.
- Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
- Air out the working area by opening doors and windows and using fans.
- Protect your lungs. Use an N-95 respiratory mask that can be purchased at most hardware stores for about $10.
For more information, see:
Mississippi Department of Health: http://www.msdh.state.ms.us/msdhsite/_static/43,0,230,331.html
Centers for Disease Control: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/
Environmental Protection Agency: www.epa.gov/mold/cleanupguidelines.html
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.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.