When Can I Safely Re-Occupy My Home?
This is the most common question often asked after a major calamity. Homes that have sustained any flood damage should expect to have a mold contamination with visible growth and should not be re-occupied until the necessary mold remediation is performed. Mold is a now considered as a national health crisis of epidemic proportions due to the health effects from exposure that most commonly occur by inhalation, skin contact, and sometimes, ingestion can be extremely dangerous to anyone, depending on indoor air counts and length of exposure. It is strongly advised that mold remediation work involving large areas (100 sq ft or 10 ft x 10 ft) should be performed by trained mold remediation experts. In normal circumstances, areas exceeding 25 to 30 sq ft should also be remediated by trained personnel who can contain the area and remove the mold effectively and safely. By following this suggestion, you don’t risk being exposed to harmful molds and their effects.
Do-It-Yourself Mold Remediation
If you decide to do mold clean up by yourselves, it is strongly advised to use protective equipment and dutifully follow these tips. Use dust masks and gloves, when inspecting areas small that have severe presence of molds. Always remember to stay for a maximum of 15 minutes only on places where there is severe mold contamination. As much as possible minimize dust release as it also includes mold spores. If you are trying to clean up an area of at least 100 square feet or a total area of 10 feet by 10 feet, use half-face air purifying respirators with goggles and gloves for safety purposes. If you are covering an area of 100 square feet it is highly advised to use a full-face air purifying respirator, gloves and disposable cover all. Doing so lowers your chance to exposure to mold spore to zero. But it is still highly suggested that a professional do this.
Mold Remediation in a Two-Story Home
If you are doing clean up on a two-story house, thoroughly seal-off the second floor by using poly sheeting. Remember to always run a high-power exhaust fan in the area where you are working to provide ventilation and prevent possible infiltration of any airborne mold or bacteria into adjoining spaces. To clean up small debris and dust, use vacuum cleaners with filters. After all these, clean off and disinfect the area with a detergent and bleach solution.
Health and safety advisories to remember when cleaning up after flooding:
- Be aware of black mold that are growing on sheetrock. There is a possibility that it may be Stachybotrys chartarum. This kind of mold produces a toxin which has been associated with severe health problems in humans.
- Be vigilant in looking for a whitish or yellowish cotton candy-like mold growth that is observed in many homes. This mold growth has been identified in some testing as Fusarium, which like the black mold or Stachybotrys chartarum, also produces a toxin that is associated with adverse health problems in humans.
- If you smell a gas leak, it is highly advised to call your utility company. Doing so prevents the possibility of fire or explosion that may lead to more damaged property or loss of life.
- Be aware to stay away from downed power lines and damaged electrical wires. A sudden electrical surge may prove fatal.
Usually, mold clean-up activities may result in the release of lead paint dust. It is recommended for households that have children under the age of 7 to have a lead dust wipe post clearance testing. Doing this ensures the safety of everyone in your household from possible lead poisoning.
Plaster containing asbestos
There is a probability that the plaster that you may be working on may contain asbestos. More extensive testing is required to really understand and know the scope of this potential problem. It is good to know that plaster can be inexpensively tested for asbestos content. Cleaning-up of asbestos-containing plaster surfaces poses a very severe health risk to workers and occupants. In the event that you are using a gas powered generator, place them outside the house. Long term exposure to carbon monoxide will kill anyone.