Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mold Can Be A Problem Long After Floodwaters Recede

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Mold can be a growing problem.

Five to six weeks after a flood, mold can become a problem in homes and businesses that have not been thoroughly cleaned.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers steps that can be taken to combat the musty, microscopic organism's growth and its potential to cause serious health problems. Mold can also cause structural damage to homes, according to state and federal officials.
"Removing flood contaminated materials and household goods, and thoroughly cleaning up after a flood are essential steps in combating mold," said Federal Coordinating Officer Albie Lewis.
Floodwaters affect household fixtures in different ways.

Porous materials are nearly impossible to clean. Soaked carpets, carpet pads, linoleum, fabric covered furniture, wet insulation and ceiling tiles should be thrown out. There is no way to clean them. For heirloom rugs and furniture, contact a professional cleaner.
Appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, cooking stoves, dishwashers, hot water heaters, washers and driers contain insulation which may harbor mold spores without visible evidence and should be discarded.

Surfaces such as wallboard, sheetrock, chipboard and particle board may have to be replaced. Water can wick up higher than the visible water line. The best practice is to remove the wall board at least a foot above the water line.

Non-porous surfaces, including glass, ceramic, metal and plastic, can be cleaned. A combination of water, household bleach and soap or detergent can be used to wash down walls, floors and other mold-contaminated areas. Follow directions on containers and take particular note of warnings.

Here are some cleaning tips to rid damaged properties of, and prevent mold.
  • Do not mix chlorine liquids and ammonia. Wear rubber gloves, protective clothing and a
    tight-fitting face mask when working around mold.
  • Remove heating and cooling registers and ducts, and then hose the ducts to prevent contamination from flowing through the ducts when the unit is turned on.
  • Heating and air conditioning filters should be changed and the system ductwork cleaned by a professional so that mold spores don't circulate in the dwelling or business.
  • After hosing ductwork, wash with a disinfectant. If ducts are in slab or otherwise inaccessible, have them cleaned professionally.
  • When rebuilding, property owners living in flood-prone areas should consider using water-resistant materials.

Excerpted from press release from FEMA http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.fema?id=48390

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