Flood­wa­ter and mold

The Week (US) - - 20 News -

As the flood­wa­ters of Hur­ri­canes Har­vey and Irma re­cede, mil­lions of peo­ple face a new threat: mold. The hu­mid Texas and Florida cli­mates cre­ate the per­fect breed­ing ground for mold, which can ap­pear al­most in­stantly af­ter a hur­ri­cane—some­thing many vic­tims of Ka­t­rina, Sandy, and Ike learned the hard way, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ports. Mold thrives on mois­ture, oxy­gen, and or­ganic mat­ter such as cloth, wood, and dust, and re­leases light­weight spores that spread eas­ily through air. In­ten­sive ex­po­sure to mold can cause cough­ing, con­ges­tion, sore throats, wheez­ing, and skin rashes. Mold can also trig­ger se­vere re­ac­tions in peo­ple with asthma or weak­ened im­mune sys­tems. Re­mov­ing mold from homes can be costly. House­hold items that can’t be dis­in­fected, such as rugs, up­hol­stered fur­ni­ture, and mat­tresses, have to be dis­carded. Con­tam­i­nated dry­wall and in­su­la­tion must be re­placed. “The eco­nomic im­pact of mold and wa­ter dam­age can be se­vere,” says sci­en­tist Mary Hay­den, who stud­ies how weather can af­fect health. “It’s dev­as­tat­ing on all lev­els.”

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