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State Health Department Provides Information on Dealing with Mold Following Floods
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services today released information and guidelines for cleaning up mold impacting buildings following flooding. Molds are of concern when found indoors both because they have the potential to cause health problems and because they destroy building materials.
Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.
“The first key to cleaning up mold is to remove the moisture source,” said Cherri Baysinger, Chief of the Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “Clean-up will not be effective if the area continues to be exposed to wet conditions.”
Baysinger offered the following advice for controlling mold:
· Scrub mold off hard surfaces with soap and water, and dry completely.
· Use a disinfectant (one-and-one half cups household bleach in a gallon of water) if needed, and especially if the water damage occurred because of floodwaters or sewage backup.
· Discard absorbent or porous materials such as ceiling tiles or carpet.
· If the item is expensive or has sentimental value, consult a cleaning and restoration specialist.
· If you are cleaning up the mold damage yourself, wear an N-95 dust mask, goggles, rubber gloves, and clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
· In special circumstances, such as if the mold damage is extensive (usually greater than 10 square feet) or if the person available for cleaning is immune-compromised or otherwise mold sensitized, a specialist may need to be hired. If a contractor is hired, check references and insure the contractor is following the recommendations or guidelines in cleaning from professional or governmental organizations, such as the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services or the EPA. The state does not license or “certify” any individuals or companies representing themselves as mold remediators.
Where to go for more assistance:
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Web Page
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)