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After the flood fact sheet: dealing with mold

March 08, 2011
CONTACT: Bill Chalcraft, 773-3361
After the flood fact sheet: dealing with mold
PIERRE, S.D. – Flood cleanup can result in exposure to mold. The Department of Health offers the following information about mold cleanup
Is mold a hazard after water damage? Molds can produce toxins. There is always a little mold everywhere – in the air and on many surfaces. However, when mold spores drop on places where there is excessive moisture, especially from flooding, they will attach themselves to many things and grow. Many building materials such as wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and others support mold growth.
Who is most at risk in reacting to molds? People who have allergies or compromised immune systems are most at risk. Symptoms may include minor irritations such as nasal stuffiness or eye irritation but can also cause severe reactions such as fever, shortness of breath or infections.
How do I disinfect my home? Fully disinfecting a home after it is flooded is critical, particularly if small children will be crawling on or touching affected surfaces. Clean and disinfect all walls, hard-surfaced floors and household surfaces with soap, water and bleach – 1 cup of bleach to 5 gallons of water. Most household cleaning products will do the job if used correctly. Check the label for how much to use and follow all directions and safety precautions. Ventilate the area while using any cleaning products..
Air-dry in the sun and spray with disinfectant any mattresses, upholstered furniture or other items that cannot be washed in hot water or dry cleaned. Steam-clean carpets and wear boots and rubber gloves while cleaning. Not everything can be safely cleaned - some building materials damaged by prolonged exposure to moisture may have to be thrown out.
More information on flood cleanup is available at http://disasterrecovery.sd.gov. For detailed information about molds see the Environmental Protection Agency web site, http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html.
Effectively managing public health emergencies is a key objective of the department’s Health 2020 initiative.