With summer on the horizon, New Jersey residents may be looking in closets, garages and other storage spaces for seasonal items that have been packed away since last September.
As you search for items you need for the summer season, be on the lookout for signs of mold in areas of your home and property that may have been impacted by Superstorm Sandy.
Mold growth may be hidden above ceilings, behind walls, in attics and basements or crawl spaces. Look for the tell-tale signs of mold, which include staining on walls and ceilings or a pungent, musty smell.
The persistence of mold can be the most long-lasting after-effect of a storm, and it can pose a health hazard for some people. Exposure to mold can cause nasal and throat irritation, coughing or wheezing, eye irritation, or, in some cases, skin irritation.
If you experienced leaks, flooding or dampness in your home or business during Superstorm Sandy, it is important to perform a thorough inspection to be sure there are no lingering mold hazards.
Mold can occur as a result of plumbing leaks, leaking roofs or windows, high humidity, flooding or condensation inside walls because of poor insulation.
Excessive moisture is the key condition that allows molds to grow.
Molds are fungi that occur naturally in the environment. But they may cause problems when they grow inside homes and buildings.
Some building materials such as drywall, ceiling tiles and wood framing contain cellulose, which is a material on which molds can grow.
Because it feeds off cellulose, mold can weaken studs, joists and other structures, causing extensive property damage.
For areas less than 10 feet that may be affected by mold growth, a homeowner or building maintenance worker may be able to eradicate the problem. If the mold-affected area is larger than 10 feet, it is best to hire a contractor who is experienced in mold remediation.
Where to Look for Mold:
- Any area where moisture is present or flooding has occurred
- Basements, crawl spaces and attics
What to look for:
- Discoloration on walls or ceiling that continues to grow or change color
- A pungent, musty smell
- Identify and correct the source of moisture
- Remove and/or clean mold-contaminated materials
- Ensure that the area is completely dry before doing any renovation or construction work
- Wear gloves, a respirator, protective clothing and goggles when removing mold
The New Jersey Department of Health has released Mold Guidelines for New Jersey Residents, a pamphlet created to provide direction to residents on addressing mold in homes in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The pamphlet addresses a number of topics including mold-related health concerns, how to inspect for mold and tools and techniques for cleanup.
New Jersey residents can receive copies of the pamphlet by visiting http://nj.gov/health/er/hurricane_recovery_resources.shtml or calling 609-826-4950.
New Jersey residents can also call 609-826-4950 to speak with the Department’s Environmental and Occupation Health Assessment Program staff about mold removal questions.