Healthy Indoors Magazine

HI-September 2017

Healthy Indoors Magazine

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Page 17 of 46

FEATURE— September 2017 18 tives, and a host of service and product sales propaganda. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a significant amount of informational material was developed in an attempt to provide some much-needed di- rection for managing recovery efforts. Most of the cleanup-related content discusses drying and decontamination procedures for homeowners. Many of the documents offer reasonable guid- ance for personal safety, but several are still rec- ommending questionable practices, like bleach (sodium hypochlorite), as a viable treatment for the subsequent mold that occurs on wet building materials and contents. Unfortunately, this prac- tice of using bleach, in part because it's relatively cheap and readily available, has been parroted by many local health departments in the wake of flooding. Most credible professionals, howev- er, consider bleach to be mostly ineffective with mold. It may also be potentially hazardous to workers when used in somewhat confined spac- es, like basements. An example of contradictory language is the 2012 EPA Flood Cleanup Fact Sheet which states, "FEMA also suggests the use of disin- fectants and sanitizers on the ductwork for the heating and air conditioning system, if it has been flooded," then goes on to say, "Disinfectants and sanitizers contain toxic substances." FEMA directs policyholders to address and minimize mold growth, warning that, "NFIP flood insurance policies will not cover mold damage if a policyholder fails to take action to prevent the growth and spread of mold." NFIP policyholders must follow the Guidelines of their flood policy when cleaning up. They are directed to read the U.S. Department of Envi- ronmental Protection Agency's 2015 Homeown- ers' and Renters' Guide to Mold Cleanup After T he Gulf Coast of the United States and much of the eastern Caribbean were hammered by an apocalyptic pairing of Category-5 storms over the past month. The resulting loss of life, and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage from these ex- treme weather events, can only be described as catastrophic. Most of the floodwaters from Hur- ricanes' Harvey and Irma have receded, but the aftermath is far from over. In the U.S. alone, many hundred-thousand property owners are left to sort out the remnants of their post-flood possessions, discarding the unsalvageable, and attempting to dry out and clean up what remains. For some, the daunting task of dealing with filing insurance claims looms over their recovery process. For others, the lack of coverage for flood damage means that they may have just lost most, or all, of their property. Those affected by these storms may be hav- ing a difficult time sifting through the scramble of flood-related "help" information online. This in- cludes numerous (and often contradictory) guid- ance documents from both government agen- cies and other organizations, specific FEMA and NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) direc- Flood Recovery Guidance: Wading Through the Mess

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