Sandy, Health and Safety
The impacts of Hurricane/Post Tropical Cyclone Sandy will be felt in our area in many ways over a long period of time. Those who experienced water damage from flooding, or from wind with rain or snow, may face health and safety hazards from wet materials that are part of the structure of their homes or remain within the home.
Water-damaged materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold that can cause disease and trigger allergic reactions. Immediate removal of contaminated and wet materials and standing water are critical, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The key to preventing mold after a flood is to dry saturated materials quickly and thoroughly. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and NYC Department of Health, you are reasonably well assured of preventing mold growth if materials are dried within 48 hours. Organic materials that have been saturated for more than 48 hours should be discarded and replaced. (At this point, most homes in the New York region have already passed that milestone.) Any electrical appliance that has been touched by flooding should be checked by a qualified professional before resuming use.
Information on flood remediation and mold prevention is available from the sites listed below. Many are intended for homeowners or apartment dwellers. Taking steps to dry your home and belongings are a top priority but even simple steps like turning on a fan may have unintended consequences if they result in spreading mold spores that have started to grow. Eliminating mold, especially over a large surface area, is a job for a professional.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers basic information on mold, along with information and Guidelines for Mold Cleanup, what to wear when cleaning moldy areas, hidden mold, and more.
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification offers tips for consumers and information about standards for remediation. The organization also serves as a certifying body for professionals working in the field.
The City of New York’s Guidelines for Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments (2008), concludes with a useful fact sheet “Preventing and Cleaning Mold Growth,” for building owners and managers.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control website provides useful fact sheets, flyers, videos and other resources about mold prevention, cleanup after a hurricane or flooding disaster, reentering premises after a flood and other pertinent topics: http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/mold.
The U.S. Library of Congress website has prepared tips on preserving damp or flood-soaked documents, books and treasures: http://www.loc.gov/preservation/family/ftpreserv.html. More detailed information on preserving and drying documents for those coping with large volumes of such materials such as libraries is available on the web. An example is: http://www.nedcc.org/resources/pubs.php
Disclaimer: AEA is providing these links as a service to readers; however, we are not responsible for the contents posted on these sites listed and cannot confirm the applicability of recommendations you may find on them to your situation. For assistance, please consult a qualified mold remediation professional.