Beware of mold caused by Hurricane Sandy

This mold was caused by a flood. Don’t let mold happen to you.

Mold has become a major concern for businesses hit by the storm, we loan a few tips for dealing with this messy problem. 

As electricity and heat slowly returned to the tri-state area, many home and business owners learned of new problems caused by Hurricane Sandy when she hit almost one month ago. One such issue is mold.

Heavy rain and storm surges filled many usually dry spaces with inches—and sometimes feet—of water. In a booklet called Flood Cleanup and the Air in Your Home, the Environmental Protection Agency explains, “Flood water can make the air in your home unhealthy. This is because when things get wet for more than 2 days they usually get moldy. There may also be germs and bugs in your home after a flood.”

Dr. Clifford Basset, an allergy specialist and a professor at New York University, wrote on, “If areas of your home have been wet for two or more days, you may be dealing with a possible mold problem.”

According to the New York Department of Health, molds are actually tiny living organisms. Their purpose is to break up dead materials, alternatively when mold grows in the wrong locations (like your office or shop) the results are unsightly and unsafe. Left unattended mold can cause serious structural damage and even illness.

Mold is also incredibly common. The splotchy and plant-like fuzz is generally black, white, gray or green. It will grow on organic materials (think wallpaper, tiles that make up a ceiling or carpet pads made from natural fibers) if more than average moisture is present. Sometimes, Basset notes, mold’s musty smell will be noticeable before the mold is visible. He suggests, “Avoid it becoming a significant problem by recognizing and fixing it right away.”

The EPA recommends throwing away any items touched by floodwater. For items with small amounts of mold that can’t be thrown away, use bleach and water to clean the area. The EPA recommends cleaning only when wearing mask, gloves and goggles. Also be sure to read the instructions on the bottle of your chosen cleaning fluid. Ideally this will all be done within 24 to 48 hours of water removal.

Dr. Chris Portier, of the Center for Disease Control loaned this tip on Twitter, “Cleaning #mold? Never mix bleach and ammonia. The fumes could kill you. Safe clean up info here: #Sandy”

For large amounts of mold you will need to bring in a professional. But beware; many insurers will not finance mold-related repairs.

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