A Reminder to Check Your Home
My heart goes out to all the people affected by the unforgiving hurricanes that have gripped so much of our wonderful nation and the world. So many are still in Flood Zones. I look at their faces trying to search how they are getting through it all. I also worry about the aftermath, from rebuilding to dealing with some of the hidden dangers such as MOLD – especially Black Mold which can be lethal. Read on……
As an example, the terrible devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana alone, that dumped 27 trillion gallons of water on the area, will ultimately cause more than $190 billion in damage by some estimates. One of the major problems with structures that have been flooded is mold. The combination of moisture and warm temperature is perfect for rapid mold growth. In those conditions, mold can start to grow within 24 hours and the longer the condition lasts the more territory the mold will cover.
Mold can harm health, most commonly by affecting people who are allergic to it. According to Dr. Sumit Khatri, co-director of the Asthma Center at Cleveland Clinic, allergic reactions to mold are common. Dr. Khatri says, “They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.”
After Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in 2012, Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, advised people. “Do not touch mold, wear rubber gloves, wear a mask, and try not to remain in any dwelling where there’s mold.”
But you don’t need a flood to encounter mold in the home. There are many ways it can occur to varying degrees, such as:
- Water from a roof leak that seeped into a wall.
- Excessive moisture in the bathroom (use an exhaust fan).
- Leaky pipes under the kitchen sink.
- Improperly vented clothes dryer.
- Humid basement (a humidifier could help).
- Condensation on windows might be a sign of moisture that should be investigated.
The most common types of mold include aspergillus, cladosporium and stachybotrys atra (also known as black mold).
Aspergillus is a fairly allergenic mold that is commonly found on foods and in-home air conditioning systems. Cladosporium is typically a “pepper like” substance that grows on the back of toilets, painted surfaces and fiberglass air ducts. While this mold is nontoxic to humans, it can trigger common allergy symptoms, such as red and watery eyes, rashes and a sore throat.
Black mold, sometimes called “toxic black mold”, most commonly appears in basements, crawlspaces and other areas of homes
exposed to high levels of moisture. The spores of black mold can cause a wide range of allergic reactions and other health problems, including chronic fatigue, chronic headaches, fever and respiratory problems. Though black mold is the most
infamous of the fungi that commonly grow in homes and businesses, all molds are potentially hazardous to human health and should be treated with caution
In my home, a few years ago, some mold was discovered in the baseboard of a spare bedroom I was having repainted. The room is on the north side of the house where the sun never shines and the ground doesn’t dry so quickly after a rainfall so that rainwater seeped into the foundation, and, over time, caused the wood
above it to become moist. I had the wood replaced and the ground slope away from the house. Problem solved. So I encourage you all take the opportunity to check out your own houses for mold.
In closing, let’s say a prayer or two for the people suffering from the results of the natural disasters that have been so numerous this year.