All the dampness an invitation to mold
If you're still mopping up the mess from the rainstorm, chances are you've got a problem with mold. Health officials say it's a virtual...
Seattle Times health reporter
For more information
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/
Public Health — Seattle & King County: www.metrokc.gov
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If you're still mopping up the mess from the rainstorm, chances are you've got a problem with mold.
Health officials say it's a virtual certainty: Any flooded home or building that wasn't cleaned and completely dried within a day or two is a haven for the fungal spores. And unless you get rid of them quickly, molds can potentially mean trouble to your health and home.
People who have asthma, allergies or sensitivity to mold are the most likely to suffer effects such as wheezing, itchy eyes, rashes and other discomfort. But people who are already sick, or have weakened immune systems in general, can catch fungal infections that could lead to more serious conditions such as pneumonia.
"If you've got mold indoors, that needs to be dealt with," said David Williams, an investigator for Public Health — Seattle & King County.
For most healthy people, temporary exposure to molds will pose little health hazard, Williams said. No medical studies have definitively linked mold exposures to long-term health consequences, he said.
Mold is generally not poisonous. While some molds do produce toxins, Williams said, a person would have to ingest a large amount of it at the right time to fall ill.
The "toxic black mold" often heard about after major disasters is a different type that requires months of stagnant water to spread. That probably won't be an issue here, Williams said.
Indoor mold, whether it's green, brown, orange or any other shade, needs to be deprived of moisture to stop growing, said Laura White, a technical adviser on mold for the state Department of Health.
That means anything that could feed and harbor mold growth — including damp paper, wood, fabric, upholstery and carpets — should be thrown out or replaced. All other surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned with regular detergent or diluted bleach solution. (But never mix cleaning products, because the wrong combinations can create toxic fumes.)
And it's essential to eliminate all traces of moisture, Williams warns. Otherwise, the mold will keep growing, eventually "eating away at the house and composting it."
Kyung Song: 206-464-2423 or email@example.com
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