Still getting rid of mold that developed from the flooding of Hurricane Irma?
The Florida Department of Health in Monroe County has several suggestions to avoid indoor air-quality problems that can that occur in storm-damaged homes and other buildings.
Moisture from leaks or flooding can promote mold growth inside buildings. Mold can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions and continue to damage materials long after the storm. Failure to control moisture and mold can present short- and long-term health risks.
▪ Protect yourself: Put on personal protective equipment (cleaning-type gloves, N95 respirator/mask and safety goggles) to protect your skin, mouth, nose, lungs and eyes. People with known mold allergies or asthma should not clean or remove moldy materials.
▪ Toss/take it out: Anything that was wet with flood water and can’t be cleaned and dried completely within 24 to 48 hours should be taken outside. Take photos of discarded items for filing insurance claims.
▪ Air out: Open all doors and windows when you are removing wet or moldy materials, or cleaning moldy surfaces.
▪ Drying it out: You can close doors/windows and use fans and dehumidifiers to help remove moisture indoors. Remember that dehumidifiers can only dehumidify under closed indoor conditions.
▪ Don’t mix cleaners: Do not mix cleaning products together because doing so can create toxic vapors; this includes ammonia cleaners and acids, as dangerous gases can form. Make sure you read and follow label instructions carefully and open windows and doors to provide plenty of fresh air.
▪ Scrub surfaces: Clean with water and detergent. Remove all mold you can see. Dry right away.
▪ Don’t cover it, remove it: Painting or caulking over mold will not prevent mold from growing. Fix the water problem completely, dry it out and clean up all the mold before you paint or caulk.
▪ Consider your medical status: People with suppressed or impaired immune systems, mold allergies, asthma or other chronic lung disease should not clean or remove moldy materials. See your doctor if you are unsure of your medical status or are not feeling well.
▪ Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: Never use gasoline or propane powered tools or generators indoors, as these devices produce very hazardous carbon monoxide that can kill you within minutes. If you are using a generator, place it at least 20 feet from all buildings. Install a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm in your home.
For more information about indoor air quality and mold growth, visit www.floridahealth.gov/indoorair.