ICS Magazine

PEMA - Flooded Homes May Harbor Mold Problems

October 28, 2003
HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Flooding hit sections of Pennsylvania more than a month ago, but residents may still face serious mold problems, state and federal officials said.

"You should be concerned about mold, particularly if the amount is extensive," said David M. Sanko, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). "If mold does develop, fixing the problem quickly is important and could save homeowners thousands in mold removal costs and potential health problems in the future."

Molds are simple microscopic organisms found virtually everywhere, indoors and outdoors. When mold is present in large quantities it can result in allergic symptoms similar to those caused by plant pollen. Be aware that exposure to mold can occur during cleanup. To minimize exposure, use a mask or respirator, wear rubber gloves and take breaks in a well-ventilated area.

"Be careful when cleaning mold," said Federal Coordinating Officer Tom Davies of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Mold grows within two days, so the sooner mold is removed, the lower the chance of long- term health effects." Blair, Crawford, Lackawanna, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Tioga, Venango, Warren and Wayne counties were declared eligible for disaster aid as a result after severe storms and flooding that hit the area between July 21 and Sept. 12.

When airborne mold spores are present in large numbers they can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections, and other respiratory problems. People who are at higher risk from the effects of mold include infants and children; the elderly; people with compromised immune systems because of HIV infection, liver disease, or chemotherapy; pregnant women; and people with existing respiratory conditions such as allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity, and asthma. People with these conditions should consult a physician if they are experiencing health problems.