Water-damaged buildings may harbor mold


CONTACT: Steven McDaniel
(334) 206-5373

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) urges the public to take precautionary measures to avoid indoor air quality problems as they repair their storm-damaged homes and buildings following recent floods. The recent flooding creates opportunity for molds to grow.

"Molds are mainly a health hazard to that part of the population that is allergic to them,” Steven McDaniel, Bureau of Environmental Services, said. "Proper cleanup of molds decreases the amount available to cause symptoms."

Most molds do not cause infections, but some molds are a health risk to people with immune problems such as HIV infection, cancer patients taking chemotherapy and people who have received organ transplants. People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold.

To protect against health risks associated with mold:

  • Remove standing water from your home, office or business.
  • Remove wet materials such as carpets, pads, insulation, wallboard, pillows and mattresses. If mold growth has already occurred, carefully remove the moldy material.
  • Use personal protective equipment when cleaning or removing mold. These are gloves, goggles and an N-95 particle respirator (found at most hardware stores). This type of respirator may resemble a paper dust mask with a nozzle on the front. Other respirators are made primarily of plastic or rubber and have a removable cartridge that traps most of the mold spores from entering.
  • Do not use a respirator if you have heart disease or chronic lung disease such as asthma or emphysema. Due to an inability to wear protective equipment, persons with these conditions should avoid mold cleanup.
  • While cleaning up, take breaks in a well-ventilated area. Individuals with known mold allergies or asthma should not clean or remove moldy materials.
  • Do not mix bleach with anything except water. Mixing bleach with other liquids could produce hazardous gases from a chemical reaction. Read and follow label instructions carefully. Open windows and doors to provide plenty of fresh air.

Cleanup needs to be done correctly to remove the musty, earthy smell from buildings. The first step in cleanup is to remove sources of moisture since remaining moisture will create the humidity causing more mold to grow. Fix any leaks and remove all water. Using a "wet-dry" shop vacuum (or the vacuum function of a carpet steam cleaner) may be helpful. Use fans and open windows, dehumidifiers or air conditioning to lower the humidity.

Remove all sheetrock to at least 12 inches above the high-water mark. Prevent the growth of mold on hard surfaces such as glass, plastic and metal by cleaning with detergent and water. To remove mold growth from hard surfaces, use commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of 1 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water. Use a stiff brush on rough surfaces such as concrete.

Alabama does not license mold remediation services or maintain a list of approved remediators, but you may check the Yellow Pages of your telephone directory for professional cleaners who are certified by the Institute of Inspecting, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) for advice on removing molds from your home, or call the IICRC at 1-844-464-4272 to request a list of qualified professionals located in your area.

For more information, consult the following websites:





County health departments throughout Alabama provide a wide range of confidential and professional services. Contact your local county health department for additional information.

Mission: To promote, protect, and improve Alabama’s health

Vision: Healthy People. Healthy Communities. Healthy Alabama.