Flood waters - Courtesy of Elspeth and Evan

Reports of flooded communities across North America have dominated the news recently, and while a flood itself can be scary, the after-effects can be even more dangerous.

Excess moisture and standing water caused by natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and tornadoes contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. When returning to a home or building that has been flooded, mold will be present and may become a serious health risk for all occupants.

Active mold growth usually starts within 24-48 hours of excessive moisture. The indoor air quality in flooded or previously flooded buildings or homes can also remain problematic due to bacteria and chemicals or other hazardous substances that are present in the flood water.

Companies specializing in mold remediation should also consider the indoor air quality and take the necessary steps to improve IAQ as part of the mold removal process.

Possible health effects

After buildings have been flooded, moisture can remain in drywall, wood furniture, cloth, carpet, and other items and surfaces and can lead to mold growth. Exposure to mold can cause hay-fever-like reactions (such as stuffy nose, red, watery or itchy eyes, sneezing) and asthma attacks as well as headaches, leading to poor memory retention and decreased productivity.

How to recognize mold growth

Sight (Are the walls and ceiling discolored, or do they show signs of mold growth or water damage?) and/or

Smell (Do you smell a bad odor, such as a musty, earthy smell or a foul stench?)

How to deal with mold growth in a building after flooding

Mold removal is necessary to avoid health problems later on.

  • Talk to a doctor or healthcare provider, a health and safety officer or nearest practitioner if your building has been flooded.
  • To prevent mold growth, clean and dry everything that has come in contact with flood water and throw away anything that can’t be cleaned or dried quickly (like paper or padded furniture).
  • If there are large amounts of mold and serious health and safety concerns, hire professional mold remediation help.
  • Clean and dry all hard surfaces.
  • If something is moldy, and can’t be cleaned and dried, throw it away.
  • Use a detergent or use a cleaner that kills bacteria and other pathogens.
  • Do not mix cleaning products together or add bleach to other chemicals.
  • Wear an N-95 respirator, goggles, gloves so that you don’t touch mold with your bare hands, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and boots or work shoes.

Additional tips for mold removal in schools and commercial buildings from EPA

  • Consult health professional as appropriate throughout process
  • Select remediation manager
  • Assess size of mold problem and note type of mold-damaged materials
  • Communicate with building occupants throughout process as appropriate to situation
  • Identify source or cause of water or moisture problem
  • Plan remediation, adapt guidelines to fit situation
  • Select personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Select containment equipment
  • Select remediation personnel or team
  • Choose between outside expertise or in-house expertise
  • Remediate
  • Fix water or moisture problem
  • Clean and dry moldy materials
  • Discard moldy items that can’t be cleaned
  • Dry non-moldy items within 48 hours
  • Check for return of moisture and mold problem
  • If hidden mold is discovered, reevaluate plan

Helpful resources:

Improve indoor air quality in buildings affected by mold

Electrocorp has designed air filtration systems that are uniquely suited to mold applications. Our units purify the air with a powerful deep-bed activated carbon + HEPA filtration technology.

Many of our air cleaners can also be equipped with a sterilizing ultraviolet light, which helps neutralize biological contaminants such as mold spores, bacteria and viruses.

Find out more about our air scrubbing machines for mold and asbestos remediation as well as other contaminants.