Mold a Threat After Hurricane Rita

October 19, 2005

Homeowners, renters and business owners affected by Hurricane Rita need to know that failure to remove mold and mildew properly can result in serious, long-term health problems, including asthma and other respiratory problems.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is offering some information on helping people treat the mold problems caused by flooding.

Treating Mold:

* First make sure the electricity is turned off.
* Wear a dust mask and gloves while cleaning.
* Identify and remove any sources of moisture.
* Begin drying any and all materials that got wet.
* Remove and dispose of mold-contaminated materials.
* Clean non-porous or semi-porous items.
* Disinfect surfaces by mixing 1/4 to 1/2 cup bleach in every gallon of water and apply to surfaces where mold growth was visible before cleaning.
* Apply the disinfecting solution with a spray bottle, garden sprayer, sponge or other suitable method.
* When disinfecting heavily soiled surfaces, it is important to change the disinfecting solution frequently to ensure effectiveness. It should be changed when it becomes cloudy.
* Allow the treated surfaces to dry naturally and use fans or air conditioning to speed up the drying process.
* You can reduce the incidence of mold growth by reducing the humidity, lowering the temperature of your home, and ventilating bath and cooking areas. Also, avoid installing carpet in kitchens and baths.
* If mold odors persist, continue to dry out the area and search for any hidden areas of mold. If any area continues to smell musty, you may have to repeat the cleaning process.

Health Effects of Mold:

* Respiratory problems, such as wheezing, and difficulty in breathing
* Nasal and sinus congestion
* Burning and watering eyes
* Dry, hacking cough
* Sore throat
* Nose and throat irritation
* Shortness of breath
* Skin irritation.

Seek medical attention if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Infants, children, the elderly and pregnant women are at higher risk for adverse health effects from mold.

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