HUD No. 04-087
HUD ISSUES CONSUMER GUIDANCE ON HOW TO CLEAN UP AND PREVENT MOLD
Consumer Information to help Hurricane victims respond to mold and moisture
problems in the home
WASHINGTON - When Hurricanes Charley and Frances swamped Florida and other southern States, the storms introduced an unwelcome guest into the homes of millions of people-mold. In an effort to help homeowners and renters to respond to potentially unhealthy mold, the Department of Housing and Urban Development today is issuing important information to help families clean up and prevent this unsightly and possibly hazardous condition (see attached fact sheet).
The key to mold control is moisture control. In the aftermath of recent Hurricane damage, however, significant levels of moisture were introduced into homes, giving mold a foothold to grow in wet and warm conditions. It is critical to dry water-damaged areas as quickly as possible to prevent mold growth. Unfortunately, when homes remain exposed to the elements mold spores continue to grow.
"After everything these families have had to endure, the last thing they need is mold," said HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson. "We hope this important information can help people reclaim their homes knowing they are healthy and safe."
HUD's fact sheet informs homeowners and renters how to identify mold and, more importantly, how to respond to it. For example, it is important not to touch mold with your bare hands or to breathe mold spores since some people may be allergic and, in some cases, mold can trigger asthma. When cleaning mold, use a weak solution of water and bleach and protect yourself by wearing long sleeves, pants, shoes, rubber gloves, goggles and a face mask. For more extensive mold growth (greater than roughly 10 square feet), consult a professional experienced in mold cleanup.
For more information, visit HUD's website at www.hud.gov/healthyhomes about addressing mold and other health and safety hazards in the home. In addition, HUD and Department of Agriculture produced Help Yourself to a Healthy Home, a consumer-friendly guide to practical steps you can take to prevent housing-related health and safety hazards.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.
Does your home have ?
- Stains or discoloration on your walls, ceiling, or furniture?
- A damp or musty smell?
- Water problems like a leaky roof or water in the basement?
What is it?
Molds are alive. There are hundreds of thousands of different types of molds.
They are living organisms that grow naturally, particularly in warm, damp, humid
conditions where there is little air movement. Often called "mildew,"
molds are related to mushrooms and yeast but much smaller-we can only see or
smell mold when there is a large quantity. Mold can grow almost anywhere: on
walls, ceilings, carpets, or furniture. Humidity or wetness, caused by water
leaks, spills from bathtubs or showers, or condensation, can make your home
more likely to allow mold to grow.
Mold produces "spores," tiny particles that float through the air. These can sometimes cause health problems. Mold does not affect everyone, and different people are affected differently. People who are allergic to mold may get watery eyes, runny or stuffed noses, itching, headaches, and may have difficulty breathing. Mold can also trigger asthma attacks. Some molds produce toxins (poisons) that may be hazardous if people are exposed to large amounts of these molds. Scientists are still studying the effects of exposure to these and other molds.
What can you do?
You cannot eliminate all mold spores from a home but you can take the following
steps to get rid of mold.
Prevent-keep your house clean and dry
- Make sure your home is well ventilated and always use ventilation fans
in bathrooms and kitchens.
- If possible, keep humidity in your house below 50% by using an air conditioner
- Avoid carpeting in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. Dry floor mats regularly.
- Fix water problems such as roof leaks, wet basements, and leaking pipes
- Remove or replace carpets, furniture, walls, and floorboards damaged by leaks or floods.
Identify-find mold that might be growing in your home
- Search for areas that have a damp or moldy smell, especially in basements,
kitchens, and bathrooms.
- Look for water stains or colored, fuzzy growth on and around ceilings,
walls, floors, windowsills and pipes.
- Search behind and underneath materials such as carpeting, furniture, or
- Inspect kitchens, bathrooms, and basements for standing water, water stains, and patches of out-of-place color.
Respond-fix any water problems immediately and clean or remove wet materials, furnishings, or mold
- Clean up spills or floods within one day.
- Dry all surfaces and fix the problem or leak to prevent further damage.
- Install a dehumidifier where there is moisture intrusion.
- Replace contaminated components, such as drywall and insulation.
- Clean mold off non-porous surfaces with a weak solution of bleach and water.
- Throw away moldy materials that cannot be cleaned, such as carpet or upholstered
- When cleaning mold, protect yourself by wearing long sleeves, pants, shoes,
and rubber gloves, as well as goggles and a facemask.
- If you find a large area of mold (larger than the top of a twin-sized bed) or are allergic to mold, consider hiring a professional to clean it and fix the cause of the problem (For a list of mold-removal professionals, look under "Fire and Water Damage Restoration" in your telephone book.)
For More Information
Visit HUD's website at www.hud.gov/healthyhomes for more information about addressing health hazards in homes or to learn if HUD has a Healthy Homes program in your community. From this website, you can download a copy of "Help Yourself to A Healthy Home" for more practical steps you can take to make your home a healthy home.
Other Federal Resources
- EPA: Indoor Air Quality - Mold. "Mold Resources" (www.epa.gov/mold)
- CDC: National Center for Environmental Health, Mold (www.cdc.gov/mold/)
- FEMA: Actions to Take Following a Flood (www.fema.gov/)
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI): www.aaaai.org
- American Industrial Hygiene Association: www.aiha.org/
- Minnesota Department of Health, Mold: www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/indoorair/mold/
- California Department of Health, Mold: www.cal-iaq.org/mold0107.htm