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Mold prevention strategies and possible health effects in the aftermath of hurricanes and major floods.

Brandt M; Brown C; Burkhart J; Burton N; Cox-Ganser J; Damon S; Falk H; Fridkin S; Garbe P; McGeehin M; Morgan J; Page E; Rao C; Redd S; Sinks T; Trout D; Wallingford K; Warnock D; Weissman D
MMWR Recomm Rep 2006 Jun; 55(RR-8):1-27
Extensive water damage after major hurricanes and floods increases the likelihood of mold contamination in buildings. This report provides information on how to limit exposure to mold and how to identify and prevent mold-related health effects. Where uncertainties in scientific knowledge exist, practical applications designed to be protective of a person's health are presented. Evidence is included about assessing exposure, clean-up and prevention, personal protective equipment, health effects, and public health strategies and recommendations. The recommendations assume that, in the aftermath of major hurricanes or floods, buildings wet for >48 hours will generally support visible and extensive mold growth and should be remediated, and excessive exposure to mold-contaminated materials can cause adverse health effects in susceptible persons regardless of the type of mold or the extent of contamination. For the majority of persons, undisturbed mold is not a substantial health hazard. Mold is a greater hazard for persons with conditions such as impaired host defenses or mold allergies. To prevent exposure that could result in adverse health effects from disturbed mold, persons should 1) avoid areas where mold contamination is obvious; 2) use environmental controls; 3) use personal protective equipment; and 4) keep hands, skin, and clothing clean and free from mold-contaminated dust. Clinical evaluation of suspected mold-related illness should follow conventional clinical guidelines. In addition, in the aftermath of extensive flooding, health-care providers should be watchful for unusual mold-related diseases. The development of a public health surveillance strategy among persons repopulating areas after extensive flooding is recommended to assess potential health effects and the effectiveness of prevention efforts. Such a surveillance program will help CDC and state and local public health officials refine the guidelines for exposure avoidance, personal protection, and clean-up and assist health departments to identify unrecognized hazards.
Molds; Health-hazards; Emergency-response; Environmental-control; Environmental-exposure; Exposure-limits; Personal-protective-equipment; Public-health; Surveillance-programs; Fungal-infections; Fungi; Microorganisms
Clive Brown, MBBS, National Center for Environmental Health, CDC, Century Center, Building 2400, MS E-39, Atlanta, GA 30329
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Fiscal Year
Issue of Publication
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Recommendations and Report
Page last reviewed: December 11, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division