The likelihood of finding mold in households and properties increases drastically due to water damage caused by flooding, backed-up sewage, leaks, damp spaces, overflows or high humidity caused by a typhoon or hurricane. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in collaboration with the CNMI government, encourages the community to take the following precautionary information and measures to ensure that their homes do not pose an immediate threat due to molding post-super typhoon Yutu.
Medical risks with molding
Mold spores or molding are caused by high humidity, moisture, and water and can easily be distributed in the air due to their microscopic size. It can cause a variety of health issues to anyone if not immediately removed after a disaster.
Mold poses a direct threat particularly to those with existing health issues such as asthma, allergies or respiratory problems; nasal, sinus and cough congestion; eyes, nose and skin irritation; nervous system issues; aches and pains; and other related medical conditions and symptoms.
Infants, children, elderly and those with weak immune systems are also susceptible to the hazardous effects of molding in homes and are encouraged to stay away from moldy sites until it has been completely removed.
Molding occurs within the first 24-48 hours after contamination if not tended to immediately after a typhoon and can also occur despite no visible damages to your property. All contaminated materials and properties that cannot be cleaned and dried should be removed and thrown away.
If possible, mold should be removed professionally. If you must remove the mold yourself, the following tips should be sufficient in removal and repair of your homes, establishments and properties:
• Use the right cleaning materials—Trash bags, sponge, rags, scrub brush, broom, mop, buckets, correct cleaning products such as detergent and other necessary materials.
• Wear protective gear—Protective eye masks/goggles, filter facemasks, gloves, long sleeved shirts, long pants, waterproof boots and other gear that will help you avoid contact with mold.
• Dry the structure—Ensure all doors and windows are open to let the air out for at least 30 minutes before you stay any length of time.
• Open inside doors, especially closets and interior rooms.
• Open all cabinets and wipe them clean.
• Use fans and dehumidifiers when safe. Position fans to blow air out through doors and windows. · Remove All Contaminated Materials
• Locate all contaminated structure materials and personal property. Remove and dispose of anything that was wet and can’t be cleaned and dried completely.
• Clean the property—Clean with water and detergent to remove all visible molds. Do not mix cleaning products together, such as bleach and ammonia because it can create toxic vapors. After cleaning, immediately take a shower and change your clothes as soon as possible to avoid carrying mold to your living quarters.
• Repair the property—Do not paint or caulk over mold, as it will not prevent it from growing. All molds must be removed and all areas must be disinfected before repairs can be done.
For more information regarding preventing molding after a natural disaster, visit https://www.fema.gov. (PR)