What you need to Know
Moist places generate mold. When mold spores drop where there is excessive moisture, they will grow. Examples include leaks near roofs, windows, or pipes or where there has been flooding.
Many building materials provide nutrients that encourage mold to grow. Wet cellulose materials, including paper and paper products, drywall, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products, are particularly conducive to the growth of some molds. Other materials, such as dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, carpet, fabric, and upholstery, commonly support mold growth.
Remove moldy items from living areas. Once mold grows in carpet, insulation, ceiling tiles, drywall, or wallboard, removal and replacement is the only way to deal with the problem.
Written by Ed Weil, Engage Estero’s Health Council member, and Allan Bowditch, Engage Estero’s Chief Communications Officer
It is essential to thoroughly clean and dry the area as you can still have an allergic reaction to parts of the dead mold, and mold contamination may recur if there is still a source of moisture. Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly.
The most common indoor molds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus. We do not have precise information about how often different molds are found in buildings and homes.
In a report by Joshua Cole1, NBC2, he mentioned that weeks after Hurricane Ian left behind soaking and soggy damage, medical experts were warning mold would be a significant risk factor for health.
“It was very horrible, very horrible because the water was very dirty, it smelled bad,” said Cape Coral resident Ayme. A lot of water came in as well. I don’t want to go through that again.”
Like many others, her family cleaned their flooded home near Cape Coral Pkwy and Coronado. Now she’s looking for mold that could be growing inside her home.
Health experts with Lee County Health Department say to be on the lookout for mold and act quickly. Pay attention to odors and musty smells. Mold can appear in a variety of colors and can look fuzzy or velvet-like. Doctors with Lee Health said kids, older adults, and people with respiratory conditions like asthma should stay clear of mold and not breathe it in.
How can it affect youBlack mold has been the cause of numerous allergy-like symptoms in those exposed to significant amounts. Irritable eyes, runny noses, scratchy throats, and dermatitis can occur in those who have inhaled mold. Those who experience a high fever or flu-like symptoms may also manifest symptoms of mold exposure. In rare cases, mold allergies, including hypersensitivity pneumonitis, may cause more severe reactions. Symptoms of chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis include:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing (lasting for weeks or months)
- Progressive weight loss
What you should do
If you recognize black mold appearing now that the weather is warming and humidity is increasing, Engage Estero encourages you to take appropriate precautions.
If you find mold, and it’s in one spot, resist the urge to start tearing down wallpaper and ripping out wood panels. You’ll spread the spores into your vents and do more harm than good. Here’s what to do2:
Invest in some safety goggles, safety gloves, and an N-95 respirator (you can find them at most hardware stores)
If it’s a small, contained area, mix up a strong bleach solution (1-part bleach to 10 parts water) and let the bleach soak on the mold for 15 minutes
- Clean with a stiff wire brush and rinse.
- Collect your cleaning materials in a plastic bag, seal and dispose of them.
- If absorbent materials are moldy, like ceiling tiles or carpet, throw them away.
- Vacuum the surrounding area to pick up any spores
Call a professional immediately if the mold has spread to several locations and is not contained.
“Be Informed, Get Engaged, and Make an Impact!”
1 Mold becoming a concern for residents during Hurricane Ian cleanup NBC 2’s Joshua Cole
- Black Mold 101, Medicenters, https://www.medicentres.com/2017/02/black-mold-101-how-to-find-it-and-deal-with-it-safely/