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After Flood: Preventing And Removing Mold

Armen Hareyan's picture

Mold growth is a common event after flood waters recede. Molds are a natural part of the environment and we are exposed to mold spores in everyday activities. Because molds have the potential to cause health problems when excessive growth occurs, they should be cleaned promptly and correctly. "Any structure that has been flooded should be presumed to contain materials contaminated with mold if those materials were not thoroughly dried within 48 hours," said Iowa Department of Public Health Director Tom Newton. "Under the current conditions, it is obvious mold growth is something to be aware of."

Exposure to molds can cause reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and rash. These types of reactions are common and can be immediate or delayed. To effectively prevent the growth of mold, the following steps should be taken:

* Clean up and dry out the area as quickly as possible. Open windows and doors and use fans or dehumidifiers to dry out the area.

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* Remove, dispose, and replace all items that have absorbed flood water and cannot be thoroughly washed and dried. Examples of these items include carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, ceiling tiles, insulation material, leather, paper, some wood and wood products, and food.

* Clean wet non-porous (items that do not absorb water) items and surfaces with detergent and water to prevent mold growth.

If mold has already begun to grow, it's important to remove it as soon as possible. The longer mold grows, the more destructive it can become. When cleaning up mold, a few precautions should be taken:

* Wear gloves to protect your hands. Wear goggles that do not have ventilation holes to avoid getting mold or mold spores in your eyes.

* Avoid breathing in mold or mold spores. This can be done by carefully removing mold contaminated materials so mold spores do not become disturbed. In cases of severe mold growth, a dust mask or respirator can be worn to minimize exposure.