When an area experiences a major flood, water damage is not the only deadly culprit lurking around. As devastating as the damage is when the waters recede, residents are often faced with the new threat of mold contamination.
Porous materials that absorb water can confine mold infinitely. Anything that can harbor mold should be discarded immediately. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some people are sensitive to mold because exposure can cause symptoms such as eye irritation, wheezing, nasal congestion or skin irritation. Those who are seriously allergic to mold, may experience more severe reactions such as shortness of breath or a fever. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found sufficient evidence linking indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, wheezing and coughing in healthy individuals in addition to those with fragile immune conditions.
Mold and mildew can begin growing within 24 hours after a flood. Mold can begin colonization throughout your home, from the attic to the basement, and then to your crawl spaces. Porous materials such as rotten wood, drywall, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, rags, upholstered furniture or stale carpeting can trap mold indefinitely and should be discarded immediately. During cleanup, the EPA recommends that you wear gloves and use an N-95 respirator in a well-ventilated area.
Wet places need to be cleaned immediately and not allowed to remain damp. Mold cannot grow without moisture. Non-porous objects such as metal, plastic, glass or ceramic should be cleaned with a solution of household bleach, detergent and water. Use up to 1 cups of bleach per gallon of water. Do not forget to wear rubber gloves, goggles, an air filter mask and other protective clothing when working with bleach solutions. Never mix bleach and ammonia together. Mold contaminated areas should be washed down. Have ductwork inspected by a professional and don’t forget to change your air and furnace filters. Be sure to monitor the area for any signs of new mold growth and moisture.