by Chrissie Dawson
As Eastern Kentucky is currently suffering through a tragic historic flooding event, with 37 lives lost to-date, another problem lurks in the background. That problem, while not as immediately devastating, is exposure to mold.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), microscopic mold can begin to grow within 24 to 48 hours of water exposure and will continue to grow as long as the moisture level is high. As flood waters begin to recede, the lingering dampness in homes and businesses is sure to produce mold that may become visible in as little as three days of the flooding, if actions are not taken to dry building materials and restore the affected areas within 48 hours. Mold growth will intensify if moisture conditions are not corrected. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products and may also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric and upholstery. With the magnitude of flood damage that is occurring in Eastern Kentucky, the likelihood of most homes and businesses being properly dried and cleaned within 48 hours is low.
According to the EPA, the potential health effects that mold presents include allergic reactions, asthma, other respiratory complaints and eye, skin, nose, throat, and lung irritation in both mold-allergic and non-allergic people. Allergic reactions to mold can be immediate or delayed. Persons can be exposed to mold through skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion.
The most effective way to eliminate mold growth is to remove it from materials that can be cleaned and to dispose of materials that cannot. Persons with allergies, asthma, respiratory conditions, or weakened immune systems should avoid mold cleanup if possible. While performing clean-up or other activities in buildings containing mold, proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be donned. PPE may include an N-95, half-face HEPA filter, or air-purifying respirator, gloves, and goggles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides useful information to assist with cleanup, including cleaning agents, and returning to mold-contaminated homes or buildings after a flood.
Kentucky’s Governor Andy Beshear has established the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund to assist those impacted by the floods. If you wish to donate to the fund, you may visit their Website.
How Can We Help?
The EI Group, Inc. (EI) employs a knowledgeable staff of Industrial Hygienists that have experience with mold assessments and remediation guidance. EI has been involved with assessments following hurricanes and floods in the US, as well as internationally, and would be happy to assist with questions regarding mold cleanup and remediation verification. If you have questions or concerns regarding mold or any other environmental , health and safety concerns, please contact Chrissie Dawson at (502) 443-2455 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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