Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mold Concerns Remain After Hurricane Sandy

Five months after Hurricane Sandy made landfall and as the restoring and rebuilding efforts are more or less under way, there is still what maybe a lingering public health issue potentially affecting everyone repairing their homes. Julian Omidi discusses the efforts to address this problem, as well as the health concerns.

With all of the problems that Hurricane Sandy left in its destructive wake, there is one that is not readily detectable but may have consequences that could endure even after much of the devastation has been cleared: mold.[1]

Even the buildings that did not suffer particularly grievous structural damage were nonetheless saturated with water. The moist environment coupled with the spores lingering in the atmosphere left a perfect breeding ground for mold, which is believed to aggravate certain chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, although there is as yet no conclusive research proving that mold in itself is a major threat to health. Allergy and asthma sufferers may nevertheless find that their symptoms are more acute than they typically are, and will therefore find it difficult to breathe and sleep in mold-infested environments.

Nonetheless, it has been found that moldy conditions do seem to worsen allergies, and people with compromised immune systems due to severe existing illnesses may be in danger of weakening further if persistently exposed to mold.

Getting federal relief funds for mold removal can be tricky. FEMA does allot some money for the remediation of mold, but only after its presence has been visually verified by an inspector from the agency. However, even though the mold may be lurking invisible beneath the surface, it cannot necessarily be spotted for, sometimes, many months.

Funding for mold removal for Hurricane Sandy victims will partly come from the federal allotment and partly from private donations. The American Red Cross and The Robin Hood Foundation are expected to contribute a significant portion. The $15 million is expected to be disbursed among the 2,000 structures that have already been overtaken with advanced levels of mold since the hurricane.

There are initiatives under way to help homeowners handle mold on their own. Residents can take free courses on the best ways to clean up mold using household soaps and solvents, as well as tips on how to hire professional mold remediation companies to remove it, since New York State doesn’t issue licenses to professional mold removers, and therefore doesn’t have an established set of standards for such companies.

Mold is a common nuisance for many households. If you think your home could have a mold problem because your own allergies or asthma have become difficult to manage, it is advisable to have a professional contractor inspect the premises and possibly perform an air quality test. Mold can significantly devalue a home in addition to possibly causing physical discomfort to its inhabitants.

[1] Maslin-Nir, Sarah: Questions Emerge About the Mold that Hurricane Sandy Left Behind New York Times 3/1/2013


  1. Molds really suck! One must avoid having this in homes since these little things may cause harm that one doesn't expect.

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