Act early to combat mold

November 6, 2006 at 8:02 pm (Allergy News!, medical, Science)

An article from the C-J, here in Louisville. I spoke with one of the interviewed experts today, who supports the show coming to radio locally!

Moving quickly to combat mold is vital, experts say

By Chris Poynter
cpoynter@courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal

It’s been five days since torrential rains caused local neighborhoods to flood, so if you’ve got mold problems, you should notice them by now, local experts said.

Nick Leow, a biologist with Micro-Analytics, a Louisville company specializing in air-quality control, said homeowners first should determine whether they can handle the problem themselves.

“If it’s a small amount of water, it can be mopped up and dried up effectively,” he said. “But if you have inches and inches of standing water, it’s something most people can’t handle with a wet vac.”

Mold can pose health risks, causing problems such as a stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing or skin irritation, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those with weak immune systems or lung diseases could develop mold infections in their lungs.

One especially harmful mold, stachybotrys atra, can produce airborne toxins. That type is not as common as other molds.

People who develop health problems after exposure to mold are advised to contact their doctors.

Leow said people whose finished basements flooded over the weekend likely have a larger problem than those with unfinished basements.

“You’ve got drywall and wood paneling that can be saturated,” Leow said. “You’ve got two to three days to dry it out before running into the potential of mold growth.”

Although a home might appear dry, mold can grow in the walls or in hidden areas, so if you have any doubt, consult a professional, Leow said.

If airborne mold spores are heavily concentrated, it might require homeowners to vacate their property until the problem is resolved, Leow said.

Shirish Phulgaonkar, an engineer with Allergen Control, a company that specializes in repairing mold damage, said soap and water will wash away most mold spores.

“The key thing is to dry the house by using dehumidifiers or air conditioning,” he said.

The price of a mold inspection depends on the size of the house, but Leow said inspection of a typical Louisville home should be around $300.

Phulgaonkar warned people to be cautious about the company they hire and to check with the Better Business Bureau and other sources.

He said mold problems can be fixed without major expenses.

“You don’t have to tear the house down” to do it, he said.

Reporter Chris Poynter can be reached at (502) 582-4475.

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