Monday, December 10, 2012

Mold Factsheet for Hurricane and Flood Cleanup Workers Part 1

December 10 2012

As per the NYCOSH Rain, leaks and floods from hurricanes and other major events can damage homes, schools, and businesses. In many buildings that have water damage, sheetrock, carpets, and other building materials and furnishings become contaminated with mold.
Many damaged buildings that contain mold must be cleaned up. Some workers are hired specifically to remove mold. Other workers remove damaged building materials and furnishings or do cleaning and renovation.

These workers may become temporarily or permanently ill unless they use the right personal protective equipment, including the proper respirator.


Molds are tiny organisms. They are a natural part of the environment. Molds are almost always present both outdoors and indoors. They are usually not harmful. However, some people get sick when indoor amounts of molds become much higher than outdoor amounts, or when certain types of mold that are not usually present indoors start to grow indoors.
Molds multiply indoors when there is moisture (leaks, floods, high humidity) and food (anything organic, including wood, dirt, carpeting, or sheetrock).

Breathing in or touching mold can cause health problems. Both living mold and dead mold can cause health problems. Killing mold (for example, with bleach) does not get rid of all the health hazards.
Exposure to mold can cause several types of health problems:
Irritation. Molds can cause burning eyes, congestion, cough, and postnasal drip.
Allergy. People who have become allergic to molds may develop asthma, causing itchy watery eyes, congestion, cough, wheezing, tightness in the chest, and difficulty breathing.
Poisoning and Infectious Disease. Some molds create chemicals that may cause serious illness. A small number of certain types of molds can cause serious infections. (However, poisoning or infectious disease caused by mold is rare. People with compromised immune systems are most at risk.)
Molds can’t be seen without a microscope. Even though mold growth can sometimes be seen or smelled, workers cannot always tell for sure whether harmful mold is present or not.

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