Protecting your home, health from mold growth

FREEHOLD, NJ – With thousands of Monmouth County residents still without power following Hurricane Irene, one of many concerns residents will have is mold growth in their homes.

When the power goes out for several days, especially if the weather turns hot and humid, it will be difficult to avoid an explosion of mold growth. Mold is common after flooding or water damage.

“Mold can damage your home, possessions and cause health problems,” said Freeholder John P. Curley, liaison to the Monmouth County Health Department. “The longer you allow mold to grow, the greater the risk and the more difficult the cleanup. As soon as it is safe to return home, you should begin cleaning and drying your home and possessions.”

“Under the right conditions, molds produce spores that spread easily through the air to form new mold growths, or colonies,” said Michael Meddis, Monmouth County’s public health coordinator. “These conditions are moisture, nutrients (nearly anything organic) and a place to grow.”

Usually you do not need to have the mold tested and tests are rarely useful to answer questions about health concerns. However, some insurance companies and legal services may require sampling for documentation if you are filing a claim.

The best way to avoid mold hazards is to hire a reputable firm that is licensed and trained in dealing with water damage and mold remediation. As that may be difficult after a disaster, you may have to do the cleanup yourself. If so, follow these steps:

  • First take an inventory. Compile a room-by-room inventory of missing or damaged goods, and include prices, manufacturer’s names, and dates and places of purchases. Take photographs to document the damages for insurance purposes.
  • Dry all wet materials as quickly as possible. If possible, use air conditioning or heat with fans and dehumidifiers. If you have no power and can get access to a generator, use the generator to run a dehumidifier indoors to help remove moisture from the air. New mold colonies can form in as little as three days if materials stay wet. Even if the wood and other materials look dry, they can still be wet enough to support re-growth of mold.
  • Remove wet carpeting right away. It’s best to discard wet carpeting. If you do salvage it, clean, disinfect and dry it quickly. Never reuse flooded padding.

For more information, click on the “Hurricane Recovery Info” button at www.visitmonmouth.com or call 732-431-7456.