Dededo, Guam -- Following Super Typhoon Pongsona, some homes and other buildings may be threatened by another danger - the growth of mold. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the government of Guam warn that mold spores thrive in continuously wet conditions and can start to grow within 24 hours from the time the dampness occurred.
Mold spores can structurally damage buildings and pose a health hazard. They can cause allergy symptoms, sore throat, headaches, bronchitis, asthma attacks, lung irritation and rashes and other symptoms. Anyone suffering from these symptoms should seek medical attention. Children, the elderly and those suffering from immune system diseases may be particularly sensitive to mold.
You can tell if your building has mold if you can see it, or if there is an earthy or musty smell in the building.
The following precautions should be taken to minimize the possibility of mold contamination:
- Flooded buildings should be thoroughly dried out, which may take several weeks.
- Wet carpet and padding should be removed and discarded
- Porous materials that got wet and can absorb water, such as drywall, some paneling, insulation, mattresses and pillows, wallpaper and upholstered furniture, should be discarded.
- Drywall and other porous wallboards should be removed to at least 12 inches above the water line. Check for wicking, the upward movement of moisture to higher levels.
- Clean wall studs where wallboard has been removed and allow them to dry completely.
- Floors, concrete, brick walls, countertops, plastic, glass and other non-porous material should be washed with ammonia-free soap and water and then rinsed with a solution of one to two cups of bleach to a gallon water. Never mix ammonia and bleach because the mixture can be toxic. Allow the area to dry completely.
- Wear rubber gloves, eye protection and a facemask when cleaning and make sure the area is well ventilated.
- Materials that cannot be properly cleaned and dried should be placed in sealed plastic bags to prevent the spread of mold spores, and then discarded.
- Those who are allergic to mold or who suffer from allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems should not participate in the mold cleanup.
This Press Release Was Updated on 06/28/05