NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, the City of New Orleans offered safety tips to residents who as a result of Hurricane Isaac may find themselves facing the growth of mold.
City health officials caution that the health effects from mold can be serious for those with pre-existing health conditions such as allergies and asthma.
Mold thrives in continuously wet conditions and can start to grow within 24 hours after a flood. Mold spores can cause allergy symptoms, headaches, bronchitis, asthma attacks, lung irritation and skin rashes. People with asthma or other pulmonary illnesses, compromised immune systems, infants and the elderly are more likely to develop mold-related illnesses.
If large areas of mold growth are present, professional mold assessment and/or clean up assistance may be needed. Professional mold contractors must have valid licenses with the State Licensing Board for Contractors.
Residents are encouraged to reach out to their own doctors or clinics if they are having symptoms. If residents don't have a doctor, they can find a low or no cost clinic at www.gnocommunity.org.
In order to control mold, City health officials offer the following suggestions:
•Flooded homes should be thoroughly dried out, a process that may take several days or weeks.
•Wet carpet and padding should be removed and discarded.
•Porous materials – those that absorb water – such as sheetrock, some paneling, fiberglass insulation, cellulose insulation, mattresses, pillows, wallpaper and upholstered furniture should be discarded.
•Sheetrock and other porous wallboards should be removed to at least 12 inches above the water line. Check for wicking, the upward movement of moisture to higher levels.
•Clean wall studs where wallboard has been removed and allow them to dry completely.
•Floors, concrete or brick walls, countertops, plastic, glass and other non-porous materials should be washed with soap and water and then with a solution of one to two cups of bleach to a gallon of water and allowed to completely dry.
•Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when using bleach and make sure area is well ventilated. Don't mix bleach and ammonia. Consider using an N-95 rated dust mask if heavy concentrations of mold are already growing.
•Materials that cannot be effectively cleaned and dried should be placed in sealed plastic bags to prevent the spread of mold spores.
•People allergic to mold and people with asthma or other respiratory conditions should not do mold cleanup.
For more information on mold-related issues, including cleanup and moisture control, residents are urged to visit the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov/nceh/airpollution/mold or contact the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals, Office of Public Health at 1-888-293-7020.