Over the last several months, the United States has experienced a series of natural disasters caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate. These storms have caused billions of dollars in property damage to homes, businesses, schools and other institutions.
The vast majority of the damaged buildings have suffered some degree of water damage due to heavy rains, powerful winds, storm surge and flooding events. Anytime there is moisture or high humidity levels present indoors for more than a very short period of time, mold can quickly begin to grow.
“For those in hurricane damaged areas, it’s important to recognize that returning to a home or office that has been flooded or suffered water damage means it almost certainly has mold issues that could create health concerns,” said Jason Dobranic, Ph.D., Vice President of Microbiology and Life Sciences at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “People who are sensitive to mold may experience stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing or skin irritation. For those with mold allergies, they may have difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath. Mold exposure can even trigger an asthma attack for some with the condition.”
To safely prevent mold growth, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted information about the importance of cleaning up and drying out water damaged buildings quickly, within 24 to 48 hours. The agency reports that all porous items that have been wet for more than 48 hours and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried should be removed. Porous items listed by the CDC that typically can’t be cleaned include carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation materials, clothing, leather, paper, wood and food. Removal and cleaning are important because even dead mold can cause allergic reactions in some people.
To help identify mold contamination issues due to a natural disaster or manmade event, EMSL Analytical, Inc. offers testing services, sampling supplies, easy-to-use test kits and personal protective equipment, such as masks and respirators. They also recently sponsored an educational video about mold after a natural disaster that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/wK2R-BXp4KU.