As soon as the flood waters recede and it is safe to return, don't delay cleanup and drying. Molds produce spores spread easily through the air, and they form new mold growths (colonies) when they find the right conditions: moisture, nutrients (nearly anything organic) and a place to grow. |
Although there is wide variation in how people are affected by mold, long-term or high exposure is unhealthy for anyone. Exposure to mold can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks. It may suppress the immune system or have other effects. Some types of mold in certain conditions can produce mycotoxins, which can be present in spores and fragments in the air. "Black mold" is a misleading term since many mold types are black.
Preventing Mold Growth after Flooding
Remove wet carpeting right away. It's best to discard it. If the carpet is salvaged, clean, disinfect and dry it quickly. Never reuse flooded padding. Cut away wet wallboard and remove all damp insulation right away – even if wallboard appears to be dry. Wet insulation will stay wet far too long, leading to the growth of hidden unhealthy mold and decay fungi inside the walls. Clean with non-phosphate detergents (any phosphate residue is mold food). If you disinfect, follow directions carefully and never mix bleach with ammonia or acids (vinegar). Disinfectants can kill molds, but they do not prevent regrowth. Do all you can to speed the drying of subfloors, slabs and wall framing before replacing insulation, wallboard and flooring. Use air conditioning, heaters, fans or better yet, a dehumidifier. Water damage restoration contractors with special equipment (dehumidifying blowers) can provide the fastest drying. If possible, test the moisture content of studs and sheathing (using a moisture detector) before replacing insulation. Wood should drop below 20% moisture content by weight before you close the wall. DO NOT use vinyl wallpaper. It will prevent further drying on the inside.
Remove And Discard Moldy Materials
Porous moldy or sewage-contaminated materials should be removed, bagged and thrown away. This includes gypsum wallboard, insulation, plaster, carpet/carpet pad, ceiling tiles, processed wood products and paper. To minimize the spread of spores, cover moldy material with plastic to contain spores before removal.
The best way to avoid mold hazards is to hire a licensed, trained and reputable water damage and mold remediation firm. After a flood, that may be difficult. Since many homeowners' insurance policies do not cover mold damage or mold remediation costs, many residents face having to do the cleanup themselves.
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