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Cleaning Guidelines For Mold Removal

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Receding flood waters in Iowa have left thousands of homeowners with the task of not only cleaning up damage from the flooding, but also removing mold that has grown as a result of the moist conditions. The Iowa Department of Public Health reminds Iowans to protect their health as they clean up moldy areas of their homes.

Once a mold problem is identified, the first step is to get rid of the moisture that allows the mold to grow. Once the moisture problem is solved, the mold can be cleaned or removed. Homeowners can use a mild household detergent and water mixture or a bleach/water mixture (no more than 1 cup bleach per gallon of water) to clean mold off of non-porous surfaces. Surfaces that are porous (carpeting, drywall, insulation, etc.) should be removed, thrown away and replaced.

In general, mold causes an allergic reaction like itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, and cough. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 50 percent of Americans are allergic to mold. If you are not allergic to mold, you should have minimal health effects from exposure. If you are allergic to mold, your reaction will depend on how severe your allergy is.

When cleaning mold, there are safety precautions you can take to limit your exposure to the mold spores, thereby lessening any symptoms you might have. These precautions include:

* Wearing goggles.

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* Wearing gloves, so you don't touch mold with your bare hands.

* When using bleach to clean mold, protect your skin by wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and boots or sturdy work shoes.

* Consider wearing an N-95 respirator.

o It is a good idea to wear a respirator in areas that are very dusty, or where there is a large amount of mold growth in an area with poor ventilation.

o An "N-95" respirator is a special mask sold in hardware stores that fits over your nose and mouth to prevent breathing in particles in air, including dust and mold spores.

o Individuals with some health problems, like asthma, heart problems or lung disorders, which can be aggravated by a mask, should not wear any kind of respirator unless approved by their health care provider.

If there is a large amount of mold, you may want to hire professional help to clean up the mold.