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July 22, 2010

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047,

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DHHS: Guidance on Dealing with Mold

Wet, humid conditions can lead to mold growth

Lincoln—High moisture levels from recent rainfalls and ongoing high humidity are leading public health officials to caution residents regarding mold in homes and other buildings.

“Mold can be a serious issue,” said Sara Morgan, Indoor Air Quality Program Manager at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “For the average healthy individual, mold exposure can cause minor symptoms that are similar to an allergic reaction. However, mold can trigger an attack in people with asthma and can cause complications for people with compromised immune systems, so those individuals need to reduce their exposure.”

Mold typically originates outside the home and comes into the home through windows and doors, growing most readily in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas where a water source is present. “No home is mold free,” Morgan said. “But if you see mold growing on surfaces, such as walls, trim board, carpeting, etc., that indicates a problem.”

Because mold can begin growing if areas stay wet for 48 hours or more, keeping homes dry is a key to preventing mold growth. Prevention may not be an option during heavy rainfall, but once the water has been removed homeowners can begin drying the area out. Wet vacuums and dehumidifiers are tools that can assist in drying materials quickly.

A mold contamination problem does not always require a specialist. “For smaller amounts of contamination, a homeowner can undertake cleanup themselves, making sure to wear proper protective gear such as a face mask and skin protection,” Morgan said. “But if the contamination is extensive, a professional may be needed to ensure the appropriate guidance is followed.”

Once the area is thoroughly dried, a homeowner conducting mold cleanup should first determine which items are to be discarded and remove them from the area. Those surfaces which are to be salvaged and cleaned should have as much mold physically removed as possible before disinfecting. This is best done with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) vacuum. Once mold has been physically removed, surfaces can be cleaned and/or disinfected. “Since the goal is to remove the mold, bleach may not be necessary,” said Morgan. “But if using bleach, make sure to use only a 10% solution and thoroughly ventilate the area so occupants don’t get sick.”

Additional information about cleaning up a mold problem can be found at: For local help, residents can find contact information for their local health department by going to