Rain soaked woman with umbrella against blue sky.

Extreme rainfalls across USA and Canada have far exceeded annual averages last year. Areas throughout the continent have endured millions of dollars in damage, lost revenues, damaged crops, and homes.

The potential destruction from storms is limitless. Water damage and flooding are often unavoidable when natural disasters hit. In many cases, this extreme water damage can lead to mold. The very real dangers of mold exposure are what inspired the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to create National Mold Awareness Month (which is observed annually in September).

If you’ve got mold from water damage in your home, you probably want to know what to do and how to get it removed quickly. Household mold has been associated with all sorts of health problems, which can be quite serious and even life-threatening.

Symptoms of mold exposure can include

  • Skin irritation
  • Allergy symptoms
  • Respiratory issues
  • Nose bleeds
  • Cold and flu-like symptoms
  • Migraines
  • Pneumonia
  • Nausea

Infants, elderly people, and those with preexisting health conditions like asthma are most at risk but anyone can be affected.

So, what can you do if you suspect mold is in your home from either hurricanes or heavy rain? Breathing Clean, an initiative developed by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA), is dedicated to educating homeowners on indoor air quality and the benefits of air duct cleaning, suggests the following:

1. Take it outside 

Possibly throw out mattresses, pillows, foam rubber, large carpets, carpet padding, upholstered couches and chairs, books, and paper products—anything you can’t dry has to go. Clean any moldy items outside, mold spreads through microscopic spores and cleaning mold indoors will likely cause it to spread to other surfaces in your home.

2. Avoid chlorine bleach 

There are plenty of green cleaners that can do the job just as well. Consider using a vinegar spray and letting it set for a few hours before scrubbing the mold away.

3. Other options include 

Setting up a dehumidifier, and using desiccants like clay kitty litter or baking soda to reduce moisture. Baking soda is an efficient and inexpensive way to clean mold. Simply add baking soda to water in a spray bottle. Spray, let set, and wipe away.

4. When in doubt, get help 

Hire a certified contractor to inspect potentially damaged air handling systems when flooding occurs and/or when mold is present.

Additionally, heating and air conditioning ducts that have been flooded will have mud left in them. If your air ducts are not cleaned properly, your system will be blowing dirty air that contains the same contaminants and health hazards you are trying to get rid of.

Check out The National Air Duct Cleaners Association, the authority in HVAC cleaning, inspection, and restoration. NADCA holds its member companies to the highest standards in the industry for air duct cleaning. When you hire a NADCA-certified contractor you can trust the job will get done right using proper cleaning methods. To find a NADCA member company in your area visit NADCA.com and to learn more about improving your home’s indoor air quality visit www.BreathingClean.com.

Once your home is mold-free you will want to keep it that way.

In general, prevention is the best medicine when it comes to dealing with mold. It is a good idea to schedule periodic air duct inspections and cleanings to ensure mold isn’t hiding in your home’s duct work. You can also check and replace your air filters often and control the humidity in your home by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier.

This post is sponsored by NADCA. To find a NADCA member company in your area and to learn more about improving your home’s indoor air quality visit www.BreathingClean.com.

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The Green Divas share low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green through a weekly radio show, podcasts, videos and blog posts. Working with talented partners and credible sources, the Green Divas produce content on a variety of topics relating to a healthy green lifestyle. Visit The Green Divas website to learn more, and check out The Green Divas on FacebookGoogle+, and Twitter too!

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