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Know the Health Risks of Mold after the Storm

Health Hub
Author name: Lee Health

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Mold Safety Photo

Hurricane Ian’s flood devastation left countless homes flooded, posing significant health risks to homeowners from mold growth.

If your home flooded and you were unable to dry it (including furniture and other items) within 24-48 hours, you should assume you have mold growth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For people with asthma, congestive obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or who are immunocompromised, exposure to mold growth can lead to asthma attacks, eye and skin irritation, and allergic reactions.

It can lead to severe infections in people with weakened immune systems.  Avoid contaminated buildings and contaminated water as much as you can.

Lee Health’s Infectious Disease and Prevention team recommends you follow these tips from the CDC:

Before you enter any mold site:

  • Protect your mouth and nose against breathing in mold: wear at least an N-95 respirator. If you plan to spend a lot of time removing moldy belongings or doing work like ripping out moldy drywall, wear a half-face or full-face respirator. Basic information on using it is in OSHA’s general respiratory protection guidance.

  • Protect your skin. Wear protective gloves (non-latex, vinyl, nitrile, or rubber). Do not touch mold or moldy items with bare hands.

  • Protect your eyes. Wear goggles that provide complete eye protection. Choose goggles designed to keep out dust and small particles. Safety glasses or goggles that have open vent holes will not protect you against dust and small particles.

After you leave a mold site:

Protect yourself and loved ones. Shower and change your clothes.  This will help you avoid carrying mold and other hazards back to your current living quarters.

CDC’s guide to mold cleanup after Hurricane Ian

FEMA’s guide to dealing with mold and mildew in your flood-damaged home

If you have to live in your moldy home until it can be cleaned, here’s how to reduce your exposure to mold.

Spanish: Reduzca su exposición a moho en su casa

According to the CDC mold testing is not recommended:

“The health effects of mold can be different for different people so you cannot rely on sampling and culturing to know if you or a member of your family might become sick. No matter what type of mold is present, you need to remove it. Also, good sampling for mold can be expensive, and there are no set standards for what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of different kinds of mold in a home. The best thing you can do is to safely remove the mold and work to prevent future mold growth.”

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