Professor Warns Flooded Residents about Dangers of Mold

by Jeff Coltin
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floor and wall with mold

Angel Schmeidel Randall, flickr

Don't rebuild until everything is "bone-dry."

It has been over a month since Superstorm Sandy hit, and many residents are in a hurry to rebuild their flood-damaged homes. But, one mold expert is warning them to be careful.

Jack Caravanos with the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College has been working with relief agencies to educate homeowners about the dangers of mold. He has held several seminars for homeowners, saying it is better to be safe and wait.

 
"Many people want to quickly restore their homes and go back to normalcy," said Caravanos, "but we need to make sure these homes are bone dry.  They have to be completely dried-out before we put new materials there, otherwise the mold will just come back."
 
Caravanos said mold can cause breathing problems and trigger asthma. It is also a growing issue as many storm-damaged areas get heating back. He warned that mold thrives in warm environments.
 
"The mold, now, which has germinated, will grow even faster. So we're really very very worried about the reheating of the homes and the explosion of mold growth thereafter."
 
He said dehumidifiers work well to dry-out damaged homes. Homeowners may need to hire professionals for more serious cases, but he says to be careful with that too. Caravanos is concerned opportunistic contractors might take advantage of the high number of mold cases.
 
"I'm very worried that unscrupulous contractors will come in saying 'yeah we do mold abatement' but meanwhile they were just doing demolition the week before. So consumers need to be careful who they're hiring and do some due diligence on that."

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