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Flood Cleanup Requires Extra Care for Those With Allergies

By Robert Preidt
2/12/2013 5:11:11 PM

People with allergies and asthma need to take extra precautions if their home is flooded, experts advise.

Failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity in a home that's been flooded can lead to long-term health risks, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

"Flood cleaning" in Cedar Rapid, Iowa, by Flickr user Mel Andringa

For example, standing water and wet materials quickly lead to the growth of mold, a common allergen. Symptoms of mold allergy include sneezing, itching, congestion, nasal discharge, coughing and wheezing.

"One of the biggest issues homeowners face is what to do about flooded carpeting," Dr. James L. Sublett, who chairs the group's indoor environments committee, said in a news release from the organization.

"The pads cannot be dried out and should be thrown away," Sublett said. "Carpets should be pulled up and thoroughly dried within the first 24 hours. In addition, wallboard damage will be hidden and, if it has become wet, it should be replaced to above the water line."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urges anyone cleaning a home after a flood to wear an N-95 respirator mask, goggles, gloves, long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and boots or work shoes.

Then, discard any items that got wet but cannot be cleaned.

The agency also emphasizes that portable generators should be placed outside and far away from the home to protect people from breathing in carbon dioxide and other harmful substances in the generator's exhaust fumes.

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