Mold After a Disaster

The following information comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website about mold after a disaster.

After natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes and floods, excess moisture and standing water can contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. When returning to a home that has been flooded, be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk.

In the structure, people who are sensitive to mold may experience stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing or skin irritation. People allergic to mold may have difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath. Those with weakened immune systems and with chronic lung diseases, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs if exposed to certain types of mold. If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, the CDC recommends you contact your doctor or other health care provider.

To safely prevent mold growth, the CDC asserts the need to clean up and dry out the building quickly (within 24 to 48 hours). All porous items that have been wet for more than 48 hours and that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried should be removed. These items can remain a source of mold growth and should be taken out of the home. Porous, noncleanable items include carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation material, some clothing, leather, paper, wood and food. Removal and cleaning are important because even dead mold may cause allergic reactions in some people.

Those inside a moldy building for cleanup activities should wear an appropriate mask (N95) or respirator that provides a high enough protection level. As reported by the CDC, controlling moisture in a home or building is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.