As flood-affected homeowners begin the cleanup process, the Department of Health offers the following basic information about dealing with mold.
Is mold a hazard after water damage? Molds can produce toxins. There is always a little mold everywhere – in the air and on many surfaces. However, when mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture, especially from flooding, they will attach themselves to many things and grow. Many building materials such as wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and others support mold growth.
Who is most at risk in reacting to molds? People who have allergies or compromised immune systems are most at risk. Symptoms may include minor irritations such as nasal stuffiness or eye irritation but can also include severe reactions such as fever, shortness of breath or infections.
How do I disinfect my home? Fully disinfecting a home after it is flooded is critical, particularly if small children will be crawling on or touching affected surfaces. Clean walls, hard-surfaced floors and household surfaces with soap and water, then sanitize with a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 5 gallons of water. To clean actual mold growth from hard surfaces such as floors or countertops, wash with a solution of 1 cup bleach to 1 gallon water, rinse with clean water and allow to air dry. Ventilate the area while using any cleaning products.Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners – mixing bleach with cleaning products produces dangerous, toxic fumes.
Mattresses, upholstered furniture or other items that cannot be washed in hot water or dry cleaned should be air-dried in the sun and sprayed with disinfectant. Steam-clean carpets and wear boots and rubber gloves while cleaning. Not everything can be safely cleaned — some building materials damaged by prolonged exposure to moisture may have to be thrown out.
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