Wednesday, August 29, 2018 - 2:35pm

As Dane County continues to recover from the recent flooding, residents should be aware of the dangers of mold growth. If your home experienced moisture or water damage during the floods, it is at risk for mold growth. Proper clean up reduces the health risks associated with exposure.

After a flood event, mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. It can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery. Mold can look fuzzy or discolored, or can be in slimy patches. It also frequently causes a musty smell.

Not only can mold damage your home, it can cause health problems for people too. Exposure to mold can cause a variety of health effects including asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses, eye and skin irritation, and allergic reactions. It can also lead to severe infections in people with weakened immune systems.

“Mold may not necessarily be visible, but that shouldn’t mean you shouldn’t take the proper precautions and clean areas that have been exposed to flood waters,” says John Hausbeck, Environmental Health Supervisor with Public Health Madison & Dane County. Hausbeck encourages those affected by the floods to take the necessary precautions when preventing and cleaning mold growth.

To prevent mold from growing, cleaning up and drying out your home thoroughly and quickly, within 24-48 hours, after a flood is best. This can be done by removing standing water and wet materials from the home, open all doors and windows, and use fans and dehumidifiers to remove the moisture. Do not use fans if mold has already started to grow, as this could spread the mold to other areas of the home. Carpet and upholstery that has been saturated and cannot be dried promptly should be removed and replaced.

If you suspect mold growth, there are ways to stop the growth and eliminate it. According to the Department of Health Services (DHS):
If you have visible mold growth

  • Wash mold contaminated surfaces with soap and water
  • Mix 1 cup of household bleach with 1 gallon of water
  • Wipe down cleaned surfaces with the bleach mixture
  • Rinse with clean water and allow to air dry

If you do not have visible mold growth

  • Mix 1 cup of household bleach with 5 gallons of water
  • Wash surfaces with bleach mixture
  • Rinse with clean water and allow to dry

Residents should be cautious when using bleach to clean up mold, and are advised to use masks, goggles, and gloves. Never mix products containing ammonia or acids with bleach.

Elimination of wet, flood-damaged building materials, furnishings, and personal items may be required to prevent mold problems.

After mold clean up, if you or your family members have health problems that get worse, mold may still be an issue. If ongoing mold problems occur, the home should be evaluated by a licensed home repair professional.


Health & Safety