June 17, 2008

Mold a Concern in Flooded Buildings

By Cindy Hadish, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Jun. 17--Home and business owners have valid concerns about timely re-entry into their flooded buildings.

Once waters recede, mold can develop within three days, said Tom Hart, environmental supervisor at Linn County Public Health.

"Not when the basements are full of water, but after you drain them" is when mold begins, he said. "If you get it dry within three days, you should avoid mold." The Iowa Department of Public Health does not recommend professional testing for mold, as it is expensive and Iowa has no training or certification for mold inspectors.

"Very simply, if you see mold in your home, you have mold," the department notes. "If you don't see mold in your home, you probably don't have mold." Mold can trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions, such as sneezing, rashes and coughing. Newborns can develop a serious condition that causes bleeding of the lungs. About 50 percent of the population is allergic to mold.

Hart said homes with finished basements, or cement or cinder block foundations are of particular concern as mold reservoirs.

Carpet touched by floodwater, which contains bacteria, and cardboard and other wet items should be thrown away, he said. Drywall can be cut 8 inches from the bottom and fans blown in to dry walls.

Hart advised anyone working in flooded buildings to wear a full face respirator and have adequate ventilation.

Surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water before using a mild bleach solution. Ammonia and bleach should not be mixed.

Contact the writer: (319) 398-8428 or [email protected]

On the Net

Flood-related disease precautions: www.idph.state. ia.us/adper/flood.asp


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