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Highlights

  • People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold.
  • If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.
  • Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.
  • If you plan to be inside the building for a while or you plan to clean up mold, you should buy N95 masks (or a respirator with a higher protection level) at your local home supply store and wear one while in the building. Make certain that you follow instructions on the package for fitting the mask tightly to your face. Even if you go back into the building for a short time and are not cleaning up mold, you need to wear an N95 mask.

After natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, excess moisture and standing water contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. When returning to a home that has been flooded, be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk for your family.

People at Greatest Risk from Mold

  • People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold.
  • People with immune suppression (such as people with HIV infection, cancer patients taking chemotherapy, and people who have received an organ transplant) are more susceptible to mold infections. People with weakened immune systems can develop invasive mold infections days to weeks after exposure to fungi that live in the environment. People with a weakened immune system, especially people receiving treatment for cancer, people who have had an organ or stem cell transplant, and people taking medicines that suppress the immune system, should avoid cleaning up mold. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.

Possible Health Effects of Mold Exposure

People who are sensitive to mold may experience stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. People allergic to mold may have difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath. People with weakened immune systems and with chronic lung diseases, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs. If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.

 

Safely Preventing Mold Growth

Clean up and dry out the building quickly (within 24 to 48 hours). Open doors and windows. Use fans to dry out the building. Position fans to blow air out doors or windows.

See the fact sheet for drying out your house, Reentering Your Flooded Home and the Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters.

  • When in doubt, take it out! Remove all porous items that have been wet for more than 48 hours and that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. These items can remain a source of mold growth and should be removed from the home. Porous, noncleanable items include carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation material, some clothing, leather, paper, wood, and food. Removal and cleaning are important because even dead mold may cause allergic reactions in some people.
  • To prevent mold growth, clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water.
  • Homeowners may want to temporarily store items outside of the home until insurance claims can be filed. See recommendations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)external icon.
  • If you wish to disinfect, refer to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) document, A Brief Guide to Mold and Moisture in Your Home pdf icon[1.4 MB, 20 Pages]external icon.

If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold and fix any water problem, such as leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing. Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.

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.

If you choose to use bleach to remove mold:

If you plan to be inside the building for a while or you plan to clean up mold, you should buy N95 masks (or respirators with a higher protection level) at your local home supply store and wear one while in the building. Make certain that you follow instructions on the package for fitting the mask tightly to your face. Even if you go back into the building for a short time and are not cleaning up mold, you still need to wear an N95 mask.”

Other Mold Resources

Cleanup information for you and your family

When to use bleach

Mold Clean-Up After Disasters: When to Use Bleach
Bleach and dish detergent, common household items, can be used to clean mold in your home after a storm. The steps to take to clean up mold will depend on how much water damage your home suffered.

homeowner Renter Guide

Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters
Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters
Guidance from CDC, EPA, FEMA, HUD, and NIH on safe mold clean-up after a natural disaster

What to Wear before entering a Home or Building with Mold damage

What to Wear
What to Wear before entering a Home or Building with Mold Damage

Shopping List For Post Flooding Mold Cleanup

Shopping List for Mold Cleanup After A Flood
Shopping List for Mold Cleanup After A Flood

Floods Mold Growth

EPA Resources for Flood Cleanup and Indoor Air Qualityexternal icon
If you are repairing your home or building after a flood or hurricane, to prevent mold growth you should be sure your foundation is dry before you replace the flooring.

Flood Cleanup

Fact Sheet: Flood Cleanup – Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problemspdf icon[PDF – 42.6 KB]external icon
Flooding in a home or building can affect long-term indoor air quality — advice for cleanup, repairs, and personal safety…more pdf icon[PDF – 42.6 KB]external icon

Mold growing on a wooden headboard in a room

Preventing condensation in your homeexternal icon

If it’s hot & humid outside, too much air conditioning can lead to condensation on surfaces and this excess moisture can lead to mold growth.

Respiratory Protection

Non-occupational Uses of Respiratory Protection

What Public Health Organizations and Users Need to Know.

Cleanup information for workers

Flood

NIOSH Recommendations for the Cleaning and Remediation of Flood-Contaminated HVAC Systems: A Guide for Building Owners and Managers

A guide for building owners or managers if heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems are flooded.

Mold in building

Workplace Safety and Health
Dampness and mold remediation advice from NIOSH for workers.

Mold Remediation

Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildingsexternal icon
Key steps from EPA in investigating, evaluating, and remediating moisture and mold problems in schools.

Additional Resources

MMWR

Mold Prevention Strategies and Possible Health Effects in the Aftermath of Hurricanes and Major Floods
A 2006 report by the CDC Mold Work Group addressing public health concerns related to limiting exposure to mold and identifying, preventing, and managing mold-related health effects following any natural disasters or other occurrences that results in flooding or major water intrusion.

Mold Clean-Up After Disasters: When to Use Bleach

After a hurricane, flood or other major storm, “green” products can be difficult to find. Bleach and dish detergent might be the only things available in your area. Bleach and dish detergent, common household items, can be used to clean mold in your home after a storm. The steps to take to clean up mold will depend on how much water damage your home suffered.

Clean-up actions after a flood
Actions If the inside of your home is covered with debris and thick mud and dirt is on the floor and on the walls you must first remove all of that mud and dirt. Bleach, soap– or any other product—cannot effectively clean up mold if you do not remove the mud and dirt first. If your home has moderate mold damage, follow these steps to clean up your home: If the inside of your home has only a little mold and minor water damage you may not need to use bleach.
Remove all moldy, water-damaged items from inside your home.

Dig out mud and dirt

Use a wet vacuum to remove remaining dirt.

Scrub cleanable surfaces (such as wood, tile, stone) with soapy water and a bristle brush.

Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, and sinks) with water and dish detergent.

Use a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup (8 ounces) household laundry bleach per 1 gallon of water to kill mold on surfaces.

Dry surfaces quickly and thoroughly after cleaning. If you have a fan, air conditioner or dehumidifier that wasn’t affected by flooding use it to help the surfaces dry after you finish cleaning

interior room of a home with major flood damage and visible mold

Home with major damage

cleaning products and rubber gloves in a moldy corner of a room

Moderate mold damage

a floor with minor water damage above the baseboards

Minor water damage

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