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Published On: Wed, Sep 26th, 2018

Why it’s vital to deal with mold problems after a flood

Hurricane Florence crippled the Carolinas over the weekend, causing floods that have had a great impact on the population. The amount of water arriving on the road is greater than expected. It seems as if the water is endless. People are bracing for the days of floods. It’s true that the danger is immediate, but there is hope for the best. As a rule, residents of flooded areas are left without power and clean drinking water. Nonetheless, that is the least of their problems. The biggest problem surrounding flooding after natural disasters like this one is mold. Mold, the microscopic fungus, can stay within the structure of the property long after the waters have receded. Taking into consideration that the vast majority of households already have some kind of physical condition that contributes to the development of mold, the situation is quite serious.

photo/ Tom

Mold invasion after flooding is inevitable

In spite of the fact that hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a tropical depression, there is still significant potential for heavy rains, as well as flooding. Individuals whose homes have been affected by the sudden event will need some help, as it’s a race against time. What happens is that mold spores germinate and grow in moist or damp environments. Nowadays, there is no method for establishing the critical moisture level in a building. It’s expected that the critical level is somewhere around 80 percent. Property owners can expect such a high level of humidity. It goes without saying that a home that has been flooded is the perfect place for the development and proliferation of mold. Since it’s a fungus, the spores circulate in the air everywhere. The moment that the growth begins, it spreads rapidly in the building, creating an unhealthy living space. When it’s present in large quantities, mold does a great deal of harm.  

Why is mold such a great health concern

Exposure to damp and moldy environments is incredibly dangerous to the health. People breathe in the spores from the air and suffer allergic reactions. Symptoms include but aren’t limited to itchy red spots on the skin, nasal congestion, watery eyes, scratchy throat, and eczema. More serious health issues can occur when a person is exposed to the fungus for a very long time. These are the illnesses that are commonly associated with indoor damp spaces and mold:

  • Infection
  • Pulmonary haemorrhage
  • Toxic mold syndrome
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • Immune dysfunction

As one can see, mold is linked to numerous sicknesses. The groups of individuals that are most likely to suffer are infants, children, and the elderly. Not only are these people at risk do developing problematic illnesses, but also they can transmit diseases among others. Infectious diseases for instance, spread through direct transfer.

Identifying a mold problem  

More often than not, people are anxious to get on with their lives. Therefore, they behave as if nothing had ever happened. It’s recommendable to act with caution, especially when going back into the flooded home. It’s necessary to call a specialist and make sure that the dwelling is habitable. Detecting mold in a property is far from being easy. Professionals know what to do in order to reveal the presence of mold, as opposed to the regular homeowner. The only thing that ordinary people can do is look for visible signs of growth and pay attention to odours. InchbyInch mold Inspectors strongly advise searching behind and underneath materials. Resorting to destructive techniques may be necessary. Mold inspections should always be carried out by qualified professionals. Experts are capable of finding the fungus in the hardest to reach places. What is more, they are capable of identifying past and present signs of mold growth.

Many will choose to undertake this on their own. This isn’t a good idea. However, those who are stubborn and don’t want to listen to reasoning should at least make sure that the children are away at the time of the inspection. As far as bigger jobs are concerned, it’s required to wear protective gear and to contain the area so that the mold spores don’t spread to other areas of the property. By protective gear, it should be understood a respirator, goggles, and gloves. Professional mold testing isn’t expensive, yet individuals aren’t willing to spend their money on something like this. It’s understandable that financial resources are scarce after a natural disaster. Doing something perfunctorily to save money only results in negative outcomes. A self-examination doesn’t provide concludent answers. If testing is really needed, then it should be carried out by mold inspectors.

Recommendations for safe mold cleanup

Handling mold is certainly not a DIY project. It can’t be overstated enough that an undertaking of this kind should be handled by someone with skill and experience. It’s not within the means of homeowners to remediate the problem. This is true. Yet, they can bring their contribution. To be more precise, regular individuals can take measures against the infestation. Once the water is gone, it’s necessary to clean the building and make sure to open the doors and windows so that the space will dry in a timely manner. Porous items have to be eliminated from the dwelling. That is if they cannot be cleaned thoroughly. Examples of such items include wallpaper, carpets, rugs, ceiling tiles, and insulation material. Any one of these items can put a person’s danger at risk.

It’s not uncommon for the flooding to affect the HVAC system. Should this be the case, the air conditioning system mustn’t be turned on. What can possibly happen? The machinery is full of microorganisms, including mold and bacteria. A specialist is able to check out the appliance and ensure that it’s functioning properly. Just to be on the safe side, owners should consider giving the components a clean.  Many are tempted to use bleach when they see signs of mold growth. This is indeed an effective solution, but it’s important to not forget that bleach is toxic and it can encourage mold growth. As surprising as it may seem, this is true.  A certified company may be able to lend a helping hand.

Author: Cynthia Madison

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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