EPIC Insider - Be Safe During Mold Clean-up

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September 25, 2018

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Fungal Disease Awareness Week is October 1–5, 2018. CDC and partners have organized this week to highlight the importance of recognizing serious fungal diseases early enough in the course of a patient’s illness to provide life-saving treatment. Fungal diseases are often caused by fungi that are common in the environment. Most fungi are not dangerous, but some types can be harmful to health.

After natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, excess moisture and standing water contribute to the growth of mold in homes, office buildings, schools, and other nonindustrial buildings. When returning to a home or other buildings that have been flooded, be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk for you or your family, including people with weakened immune systems, asthma, mold allergies, chronic lung conditions, and other breathing problems.

Possible Health Effects of Mold Exposure

People who are sensitive to mold may experience stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold. People allergic to mold may have difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to mold infections. This includes people with HIV infection, cancer patients taking chemotherapy, and people who have received an organ transplant. People with chronic lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), may develop mold infections in their lungs. Both groups should avoid moldy areas.

If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.

cleaning supplies

Some Tips on Cleaning Up Mold

If there is mold growth in your home, it should be cleaned up as soon as possible in addition to fixing any water problems, such as leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing. Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.

If you perform the cleanup yourself, wait to re-enter your home until professionals tell you it is safe, with no structural, electrical, or other hazards. It's important to wear protective clothing, especially a special mask (an N-95 respirator), gloves, and goggles designed to keep out dust and small particles. If you have a weakened immune system, asthma, mold allergies, chronic lung conditions, or other breathing problems, you should not perform the cleanup yourself. Children should not do mold cleanup.

To remove mold growth from hard surfaces use commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions for use (see product label). Use a stiff brush on rough surface materials such as concrete.

When removing mold, follow these tips:

  • Always follow manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
  • Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
  • At a minimum, wear an N-95 respirator, goggles, protective gloves, waterproof boots, and long sleeves and pants during cleanup of affected areas.
  • If you plan to spend a lot of time removing moldy belongings or doing work like ripping out moldy drywall, wear a half-face or full-face respirator. 

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