FEMA: Simple Steps Can Reduce Health Hazardous Mold In Flood-Damaged Homes

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Release Date: September 7, 2010 Release Number: 1933-001

» More Information on Wisconsin Severe Storms, Tornadoes, and Flooding

NEW BERLIN, Wisc. -- It is important to clean, disinfect and completely dry areas in your flood-affected home to reduce the risk of mold, spores that can cause health hazards or structural damage.

Mold is a necessary part of the environment; without it, leaves would not decay and aspects of soil enrichment could not happen. However, nose and throat irritation, wheeze, cough, asthma and lower respiratory tract infection are just a few of the symptoms mold can cause, particularly among the elderly, infants, children, pregnant women and individuals with compromised immune systems or existing respiratory conditions.

There are simple ways to reduce mold. 

Clean Check for mold in the bathroom, basement, laundry and other potential problem areas. Take things outside that were wet for two or more days. They have mold growing on them, even if you can't see it. Clean curtains, carpets and upholsteries often. Store cleaned fabric in well-ventilated areas. Consider having air ducts professionally-cleaned, especially if you suspect mold exists on the inside surface of the duct or if duct insulation has been wet.

Disinfect Use a 10 percent solution of no more than one cup bleach to one gallon water to disinfect hard surfaces such as floors, stoves, sinks, certain toys, countertops, flatware, plates or tools, adhering to the following guidelines: Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners; Wear rubber boots, gloves, goggles and mask; Disinfect in ventilated areas, opening windows and doors when weather permits; Rinse and dry items thoroughly.

Dry Use dehumidifiers, fans, open windows or air conditioners to keep humidity below 40 percent, especially in hot weather. Do NOT use fans if mold may already exist; a fan could spread mold spores. In moisture-prone areas, choose carpets made with man-made fibers. Insulate to reduce condensation potential. Fix leaks in pipes, and any damp area around tubs and sinks, so mold spores don't have a growing environment. Rebuild or retrofit, using water-resistant building materials such as tile, stone, deep-sealed concrete, galvanized or stainless steel hardware, indoor/outdoor carpeting, waterproof wallboard or water-resistant glues. Prevent water seepage from outdoors by installing or reinforcing rain spouts. Cover dirt in crawl spaces with plastic to prevent moisture from coming from the ground; ventilate the area as much as possible.

Additional information about mold cleanup can be found on these Web sites:

For a comprehensive description of how to clean and disinfect a mold-affected home, visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Web site: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/HlthHaz/fs/moldclean.htm

For a printable brochure on mold prevention and cleanup, visit FEMA's Preparation and Prevention Web page:  www.fema.gov/pdf/rebuild/recover/fema_mold_brochure_english.pdf

FEMA's mission is to support our first responders and ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Published on: 2010-09-08

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