The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) issued a mold warning for property owners in areas affected by this year’s hurricane season. With heavy rains followed by humidity, AIHA cautions a mold epidemic could be brewing across the southern and eastern United States.

As most property owners know, moisture breeds mold. This year, the Atlantic faced a particularly violent hurricane season that provided no shortage of moisture. Two devastating hurricanes – Harvey and Irma – left entire buildings engulfed in some of the highest levels of storm surge ever seen in the United States. With many homeowners forced to evacuate, water was allowed to seep into building foundations, under flooring, and behind walls for days.

Furthermore, as families begin to put their lives back together after hurricane season, the disturbance of these items by attempting to clean up without proper equipment means that homeowners can spread mold pores throughout their house. Once airborne, mold spores can spread through homes by air-conditioning units – the first thing most people want to turn on once their power has been restored.

With the facts laid out, it may seem like mold contamination is inevitable for affected areas. However, AIHA offered advice to owners as they begin to assess property damage.

“The subject of mold can create emotionally charged health concerns for building and homeowners but it does not have to, as long as they realize that mold contamination is beyond their control and employ the help of a qualified professional,” Russell D. Hayward, Managing Director of Scientific and Technical Initiatives at AIHA, said in a recent press release.

Mold can cause illnesses ranging from respiratory infections to migraines. Improper contamination and remediation can increase the likelihood of developing illness – so in most cases, it’s better to not do it yourself.

AIHA suggests for property owners to inspect all areas and items within their property including furniture and clothing. Take pictures and document everything – organized records can make remediation processes much more seamless. Additionally, AIHA tells property owners to call their insurance company and report everything damaged. As their claim is in the works, it is extremely beneficial to contact a mold inspector or health professional to perform an air quality assessment. Many insurances do not provide this service.

The sooner mold is identified, the easier it is to remediate a building. Waiting too long can put structural integrity in danger – not to mention the health of residents.

“Our hearts go out to all those who have been injured or who have lost family members and friends, homes and livelhoods. We hope all of you know we are ready to help you in any way we can,” Debora Nelson, president of AIHA, said in a recent press release.

AIHA refers property owners to their Mold Resource Center to answer general questions and provide nearby resources to those struggling with mold contamination.

As hurricane season tapers out, property owners may still be in the eye of the storm. However, with proper education on mold hazards, affected owners can avoid yet another tragedy.

Courtesy to Zack Academy, EI’s training partner.