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Air Quality Testing and Mold Remediation
Hearts & Hands Disaster Recovery (HHDR) provides certified local volunteers to conduct free air quality testing and mold remediation for residents impacted by natural disasters. If your home was flooded as a result of Hurricane Sandy and you need assistance to clean up the mold, HHDR can help. Residents in need of assistance must meet the following criteria:
Residents interested in utilizing the services of HHDR should ask their Disaster Case Manager for a referral for service. If you are in need of these services but are unsure about how to obtain them, contact Hearts & Hands Disaster Recovery for more information.
Mold in a damaged home can create serious health problems for residents following severe storms and flooding FEMA officials warn. The New Jersey Department of Health has released Mold Guidelines: Understanding Mold Investigations and Remediation, a pamphlet created to provide direction to residents on addressing mold in homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The pamphlet addresses a number of topics including mold-related health concerns, how to inspect for mold and tools and techniques for cleanup.
Mold flourishes in moist environments in water-damaged homes. It often appears as a fuzzy growth or a discoloration of surfaces, and may be accompanied by a musty, earthy odor or a foul stench. Residents are advised to use care when cleaning up the mold. If there are signs of mold growth in your home before you do anything about it you must decide who is best equipped to do the clean-up. This depends on a number of factors.
One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (roughly, less than a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you can handle the job yourself, following the guidelines below. If there has been a lot of water damage, and/or mold growth covers more than 10 square feet you may want to consult with a professional cleaning service.
New Jersey residents can also call 609-826-4984 to speak with the NJ Department of Health's Environmental and Occupation Health Assessment Program staff about mold removal questions.
If you choose to hire a contractor (or other professional service provider) to do the cleanup, make sure the contractor has experience cleaning up mold. Check references and ask the contractor to follow the recommendations in EPA's Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, the guidelines of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other guidelines from professional or government organizations.
If you suspect that the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system may be contaminated with mold (it is part of an identified moisture problem, for instance, or there is mold near the intake to the system), consult EPA's guide, Should You Have the Air Ducts in Your Home Cleaned? before taking further action. Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold - it could spread mold throughout the building.
If the water and/or mold damage was caused by sewage or other contaminated water, then call in a professional who has experience cleaning and fixing buildings damaged by contaminated water. If you have health concerns, consult a health professional before starting cleanup.
HAZARDS OF MOLD INFESTATION
Do not spend time in houses with mold. Nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation may occur.
TIPS AND TECHNIQUES TO REMOVE MOLD
The tips and techniques presented in this section will help you clean up your mold problem. Professional cleaners or remediators may use methods not covered on this page. Please note that mold may cause staining and cosmetic damage. It may not be possible to clean an item so that its original appearance is restored.
Before you begin
Use fans at open windows or doors to dry a flooded residence, but be sure they blow outward, not inward, to avoid spreading the mold. Accelerate the drying process by using a dehumidifier to extract moisture from the air and the contents of your home. Do not use an air conditioning system until it has been checked by a professional. Using a system contaminated by mold will spread the mold throughout the house. Instead, open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
Discard porous materials such as carpet, mattresses, upholstered furniture insulation and ceiling tiles which are infected by mold. Wallboard, drywall and particle board are also porous and should be discarded. Workers should wear masks, protective eyewear and non-porous gloves while handling anything that is suspected of containing mold.
Immediate actions you can take to remove mold:
Learn more about mold clean-up, and prevention here.