Floodwaters Brings Mold Problems

Tuesday, July 10th 2007, 3:00 pm
By: News On 6

Severe flooding across Oklahoma has many flood victims worried about mold. It grows rapidly in stagnant floodwaters, spreading throughout a home on sheetrock, wood, carpet and food.

Some people are more sensitive to molds than others, but the tiny airborne spores are dangerous for everyone. Exposure to mold can lead to a stuffy nose, eye irritation, wheezing, skin irritation and asthma attacks. Some people, who have allergies to mold, may have a more severe reaction that includes fever and shortness of breath, and anyone with a chronic lung illness is in danger of a contracting a mold infection in their lungs.

There are 10 things the EPA says you should know about mold:

  1. Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory complaints.

  2. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.

  3. If mold is a problem in your home, school or business, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.

  4. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.

  5. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60% ) to decrease mold growth by: venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; increasing ventilation; and using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing, and cleaning.

  6. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.

  7. Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.

  8. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.

  9. In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).

  10. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.

For the EPA's flood cleanup fact sheet, click here.