Public Health Preparedness
Hurricane-Related Mold Damage
Hurricane-Related Mold Damage
EHA has over 35 years of experience with mold related matters and can assist you with assessment of the property and your health concerns.
EHA's team of qualified professionals are ready to respond nationally and locally in Florida with offices in South Florida and Tampa Bay. Please feel free to contact us at 410-340-8528 in South Florida, 813-310-0181 in Tampa Bay or via our corporate offices at 800-969-1441.
As public health consultants, our first concern is for the health and safety of the people who suffer through these unfortunate events. The potential for disease outbreaks and serious injury loom far after the threat of a major hurricane. As such, people affected by major weather events of catastrophic size must first be prepared to deal with the following conditions so critical to human survival; including food, water and shelter.
- Infectious diseases and chemical exposure - Diseases such as typhoid and cholera are associated with the consumption of contaminated food and water supplies due to flooding of sewers and sewage systems. Viral diseases such as Hepatitis A and Norovirus can also become major threats to the public's health. Contaminated flood waters may also harbor toxic chemicals including pesticides and petroleum by-products.
- CO- Carbon Monoxide intoxication - Precautions should be taken to ensure that adequate ventilation exists whenever running any gasoline powered engine such as, large pumps, generators or vehicles. Deaths have been associated with CO intoxication in past seasons.
- Safe food and water - Often the most critical two items essential to survival, safe food and water are often in short supply during major catastrophes. Food that has not been properly refrigerated should not be consumed. Whenever possible, drink only boiled or bottled water. The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following precautions for food and water.
- Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water.
- Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Throw away perishable foods (including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers) in your refrigerator when the power has been off for 4 hours or more.
- Thawed food that contains ice crystals can be refrozen or cooked. Freezers, if left unopened and full, will keep food safe for 48 hours (24 hours if half full).
- Throw away canned foods that are bulging, opened, or damaged.
- Food containers with screw-caps, snap-lids, crimped caps (soda pop bottles), twist caps, flip tops, snap-open, and home canned foods should be discarded if they have come into contact with floodwater because they cannot be disinfected.
- If cans have come in contact with floodwater or storm water, remove the labels, wash the cans, and dip them in a solution of 1 cup (8 oz/250 mL) of bleach in 5 gallons of water. Re-label the cans with a marker. Include the expiration date.
- Do not use contaminated water to wash dishes, brush your teeth, wash and prepare food, wash your hands, make ice, or make baby formula.
- Mosquito transmitted diseases - Viral Diseases such as Encephalitis, West Nile Virus and Zika can be of serious concern. Since most hurricanes occur during the summer months, when temperatures can be sweltering, the best line of defense is a mosquito repellant containing DEET or Picaridin.
- After the storm remove/turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers to eliminate mosquito breeding sites.
Long after a hurricane has passed, after basic survival has been assured and upon return to your property, the threat of mold looms. For this reason, we've listed our Emergency Prevention of Mold Damage & Property Damage recommendations below to help provide you with the first steps you should take to limit mold damage.
Emergency Prevention of Mold Damage & Property Damage Recommendations
- Prior to performing any cleanup obtaining personal protection equipment is important.
- For protection against mold exposure utilize at least a N-95 respirator mask.
- Wear gloves and eye protection.
- Shower and change clothes before returning to prevent carrying mold to temporary living quarters.
- Drain out all standing water immediately. Draining standing water is essential to prevent mold as well as mosquitoes that can cause disease. Removal of standing water in all areas of the property will aid in reducing the mosquito population in the community.
- Remove from the property as soon as possible all water damaged items such as carpet, furniture, wall boards, mattresses, etc. Moisture and high humidity are ideal environments for the growth of mold and microorganisms.
- • Water damaged materials should be discarded; materials that are wet and cannot be thoroughly dried and cleaned within 24-48 hours must be treated as contaminated with mold and removed outside of the home.
- Increase ventilation in the environment to help decrease the humidity.
Flood waters are likely to be contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. The following steps outline the procedure to safely clean and sanitize hard non-removable surfaces.
- Wash with soap and warm, clean water.
- Rinse with clean water.
- Sanitize by immersing for 1 minute in a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach (5.25%, unscented) per gallon of clean water.
- Allow to air dry.
Professional remediation should be considered, but with the following features in mind:
Exposure to mold can cause asthma attacks, eye and skin irritations and other potentially harmful medical conditions especially for those with weakened immune systems if not removed from the living environment.
If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience inspecting, cleaning, drying and remediation of buildings damaged by contaminated water. They must be licensed and insured. The CDC recommends hiring a professional who is affiliated or certified with organizations such as The National Environmental Health Association. All EHA Consultants and inspectors are Registered Environmental Health Specialist with the National Environmental Health Association.
If you have health concerns, consult your health care provider or county health department. If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in EPA's Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.
Do not let inexperienced and unqualified companies scare you into using their services!
EHA has over 35 years of experience with mold related matters and can assist you with assessment of the property and your health concerns. EHA's team of qualified professionals are ready to respond immediately with National offices including South Florida and Tampa Bay, Florida.
Please feel free to contact us at our corporate office at 800-969-1441.
Contact EHA Consulting Group today for more information about how we can assist your company.