June 10, 2020

Hurricane Season 2020 | Keep Safe Homes Webinar: Mitigate Mold & Health-Related Hazards and Restore Your Flooded Home

Damaged building

Millions of households across the globe are currently sheltering in place to protect against the Covid-19 virus pandemic. As we move into storm season communities across the nation are facing extreme risk of flooding and precipitation that will impact interior air quality and exacerbate respiratory, cardiovascular and immune systems of occupants.

It is imperative we ensure our housing environments are mold, pathogen and toxin free, which includes both owner- and renter-occupied homes. It is critical to address this issue as owners, operators and residents to ensure that presence of mold is observed, communicated and eradicated. 

We kicked off our “Keep Safe” Summer series at the outset of Atlantic Hurricane Season 2020 with trainers to train on the newly released Field Guide for Cleanup of Flooded Homes and Keep Safe - A Guide for Resilient Housing Design in Island Communities with:

Mold is a fungus that compromises indoor air quality and the material integrity of windows, doors, foundations, walls, roofs, and interior finishes and thrives in moist and humid environments.

Flooding, heat, humidity, and precipitation are perfect conditions for mold development, while porous materials are the perfect medium for its growth. We learned that mold can be both visible, and invisible, and at any time can produce millions of spores which impact occupant health. See CDC guidance on Mold and Health.

Infographic about the spread of illness and disease in the wake of natural disasters

Tips for Maintaining Safe and Healthy Homes

Once mold observed, set up a safety and cleanup area for workers. Mold infestation of an area of 30 square feet or greater is considered a large and/or extensive job and is similar to lead abatement and asbestos remediation. The potential for lead and asbestos exposure is also greater, so EPA guidelines recommend that mold remediation be completed by workers who have met the 3-4 day training requirements. 
 

8 Steps for a Safe Cleanup 

  1. Setup
    • Acquiring all necessary supplies and tools and planning for on-site needs like water, electricity, toilets, debris disposal
    • Working with insurers and other personal protective equipment 
  2. Site prep
    • Setting up PPE/cleanup station
    • Assessing hazards
    • Pumping out water
    • Creating containment areas
  3. Removal of belongings (address personal belongings first)
  4. Removal of damaged building materials then structural items (your points 4-5)
  5. Cleaning of all surfaces 
  6. Disinfection
    • Should occur after surfaces cleaned and organic material removed
    • For any product that promises to kill mold, bacteria or viruses, it should have an EPA label. Always follow the label instructions.
  7. Preventive treatments  
  8. Drying
     

Reference Healthy Homes Issues: Mold for more information.

Tips to Control Moisture

Most moisture problems in homes are due to structural or operational deficiencies. See Keep Safe for more information on moisture control.

Common points of inspection for buildings with dampness problems include: 

  1. Seal and caulk gaps, cracks and joints under windows, seams and penetrations. 
  2. Dry behind impermeable interior wall finishes like wallpaper. 
  3. Manage surface and groundwater leaks. 
  4. Unclog site rain gutters and site and street drains immediately, removing debris like leaves, garbage and other encumbrances.
  5. Remove stagnant water in appliances (e.g., dehumidifiers, dishwashers, refrigerator drip pans, and condensing coils and drip pans in HVAC systems, especially in return ducting).  

Additional Resources 

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