Monday, January 30, 2017

Prevent Mold From Ruining Your Home and Your Health

Floodwaters have receded from the severe storms that the Pine Belt area beginning January 21, but they are leaving behind the perfect damp environment for mold and mildew to thrive, advises state health officials.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH), mold can be identified by its musty, earthy odor and its fuzzy growth or discoloration on hard surfaces, furniture and carpeting. But it is not always visible – it can spread through cooling/heating ducts as well as wall insulation. It can cause coughing, sneezing, wheezing and asthma that should be treated by a doctor.

Mold should be cleaned up as soon as possible or it may create health hazards, especially among the elderly, the very young and those with compromised immune systems, allergies or asthma.

MSDH recommends a two-step cleaning process. First, clean all hard surfaces, such as metal, glass, solid wood, plastic and other nonporous materials with a non-ammonia detergent and hot water. Then, disinfect all cleaned surfaces with a 10-percent household bleach solution (one-and-a-half cup of bleach in one gallon of water). Then dry or air dry by opening windows and doors, and turning on ceiling fans for more ventilation.

Do not mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners. Wear protective gear including rubber boots and gloves, goggles and an N-95 mask while cleaning.

According to the health department, the general rule for porous materials is if you cannot wash it, throw it away. Throw out all moldy items that cannot be thoroughly cleaned, such as carpets, mattresses, upholstered furniture, stuffed animals, pillows, wall coverings and all paper products. Remove drywall or insulation that has been dampened by floodwater. Allow the wall studs to dry before installing new insulation and drywall.

For areas of mold clean-up larger than 30 square feet, please consult a professional mold remover.