Safely Preventing Mold Growth

People at Greatest Risk from Mold

After natural disasters, heavy rain or overflowing water in the home, excess moisture and standing water contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. When returning to a home that has been flooded, be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk for your family.

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People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold. People with a weakened immune system (such as people who are HIV infected, cancer patients on chemotherapy, and people who have recently undergone an organ transplant) are more susceptible to mold infections.

You may recognize mold by:

  • Sight (Are the walls and ceiling discolored, or do they show signs of mold growth or water damage?)
  • Smell (Do you smell a bad odor, such as a musty, earthy smell or a foul stench?)

Clean up and dry out the building quickly (within 24 to 48 hours). Open doors and windows. Use fans to dry out the building. (See the fact sheet for drying out your house, Reentering Your Flooded Home).


  • ​When in doubt, take it out! Remove all porous items that have been wet for more than 48 hours and that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. These items can remain a source of mold growth and should be removed from the home. Porous, noncleanable items include carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation material, some clothing, leather, paper, wood, and food. Removal and cleaning are important because even dead mold may cause allergic reactions in some people.
  • To prevent mold growth, clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water.
  • Homeowners may want to temporarily store items outside of the home until insurance claims can be filed. See recommendations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).


If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the mold and fix any water problem, such as leaks in roofs, walls, window trim or plumbing. Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.

Recognizing Mold

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People who are sensitive to mold may experience stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. People allergic to mold may have difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath. People who have weakened immune systems and with chronic lung diseases, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs. If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.

Possible Health Effects of Mold Exposure

Mold

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