The Louisiana Department of Health advises residents whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Ida to address mold issues.
Almost all properties that were damaged by Hurricane Ida and subject to rain water will have mold growth in wet or damp areas. Mold is a serious problem that occurs when water enters and stays within a structure. It can grow quickly and continue growing until steps are taken to stop further water intrusion, dry out the wet areas and remove the mold.
The mold that is growing in your home started with mold spores that are found everywhere in the environment. These spores multiply in the presence of moisture. Mold growth frequently occurs in damaged structures or when the power is out and the humidity rises in a home. To prevent mold in your home, you must reduce moisture to prevent mold growth.
Mold cleanup after a disaster
If there is mold growth in your home, you should find and remediate all sources of water or moisture, such as leaks in roof, walls or plumbing, remove drywall and wet material or furniture in flooded areas, and clean up the mold. Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.
You can start to clean up mold ONLY after you eliminate all pathways for moisture to enter the structure. In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary since you can see that mold is present.
Mold cleanup information
Here are some tips to remove mold from your home:
- If the moldy area is more than about 10 square feet (more than roughly a 3-foot-by-3-foot patch), consider hiring a mold remediation professional.
- Protect Yourself: Always wear rubber gloves, goggles and boots when cleaning areas with mold. If you plan to be inside the building for a while or you plan to clean up mold, you should buy N95 masks (or a respirator with a higher protection level) at your local home supply store and wear one while in the building. Follow the instructions for using the mask. Personal protective equipment can increase your risk of heat-related illness. Stay hydrated and take frequent breaks. People with breathing problems like asthma or who have weakened immune systems should stay away from moldy sites.
- Household materials: For areas that have been exposed to water, such as in a flood, it is important to remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected. These include porous or rough surfaces such as carpet, drywall, upholstered furniture, mattresses, books or other paper products. Discard/remove, bag and throw out porous materials that have visible mold growth (i.e. ceiling tiles, leather, drywall, plaster, paneling, wood products, paper, carpet, padding, etc.).
- Cleaning hard surfaces: To remove mold growth from hard surfaces scrub with soap and water, and dry completely.
- To clean air ducts: You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned professionally if there is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
- HVAC systems: Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection. Check with a heating and air specialist to show you any mold that might exist.
- Fans and dehumidifiers: These can be used to remove excess moisture. Fans should be placed at a window or door to blow the air outwards rather than inwards, so not to spread the mold.
For more information, call LDH’s Section of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology at (888) 293-7020.