Aurora, IL – Floodwaters have receded from the storms that hit several weeks ago, but they have left behind the perfect damp environment for mold and mildew to thrive.
Mold should be cleaned up as soon as possible or it may create health hazards, especially among the elderly, the very young and those with compromised immune systems, allergies or asthma.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, individuals can prevent mold after a flood by properly drying all porous and water damaged items, such as carpets, drywall and floors.
“Exposure to mold can cause coughing, sneezing, wheezing, upper respiratory irritation, and asthma symptoms, especially for sensitive individuals,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director, LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH.
“If your home flooded and you have experienced these symptoms, contact your doctor,” Dr. Hasbrouck said.
You can identify mold by its musty, earthy odor and its fuzzy growth or discoloration on hard surfaces, furniture and carpeting. But it is not always visible—it can spread through cooling/heating ducts as well as wall insulation.
The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends cleaning all hard surfaces, such as metal, glass, solid wood, plastic and other nonporous materials with a non-ammonia detergent and hot water.
Then, disinfect all cleaned surfaces with a 10 percent bleach solution (one cup of bleach in one gallon of water).
Do not to mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners. Wear protective gear including rubber boots and gloves, goggles and an N-95 mask while cleaning.
Then dry or air dry by opening windows and doors, and turning on ceiling fans for more ventilation.
The general rule for porous materials is, if you cannot wash it, throw it away.
Throw out all moldy items that cannot be thoroughly cleaned, such as carpets, mattresses, upholstered furniture, stuffed animals, pillows, wall coverings and all paper products.
Remove drywall or insulation that has been dampened by floodwater. Allow the wall studs to dry before installing new insulation and drywall.
For areas of mold clean-up larger than 30 square feet, The Illinois Department of Public Health suggests that residents seek out the assistance of a professional mold remediator.
For a mold removal company, people can search the Yellow Pages of a telephone book under “Fire and Water Damage Restoration.” The Institute for Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (http://iicrc.org/consumers/care/mold-remediation) and the Association of Specialists in Cleaning and Restoration (http://www.ascr.org) allow consumers to perform a search for their members online. The results of a typical search will include names of professionals, geographic location, and a telephone number.
Some nonprofit, faith or community based organizations can help to remove flood debris from the homes of residents unable to do it themselves. If you live within the Chicago city limits, call 311 for information. Outside of the city, call the local emergency management office to find out if volunteer help is available.
For more information, the Illinois Department of Public Health website at http://www.idph.state.il.us/floodinfo/index.htm has links to flood clean-up and related topics.
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