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Hurricane Cleanup and Air Quality UPDATED

Posted on November 01, 2012
by Wendy Stackhouse

Air Quality Blog Award

UPDATE: This blog post was given an Air Quality Evangelist Award! Thanks, Sylvane!

Our thoughts are with the literally millions of Americans faced with horrendous damage to their homes and the huge cleanup job they have ahead of them in the coming weeks.

We went over to the Environmental Protection Agency site to get some information about flood cleanup as it affects air quality and found a lot of great information. Here are some highlights:

  • Standing water and wet building materials are a breeding ground for mold, microorganisms, bacteria and viruses.
  • Children are more vulnerable to both the substances in flood water and the cleaning products used to decontaminate structures and materials.
  • Where sewage is a component of flood waters, infectious disease is a real threat.
  • Allergic and sensitive people are more at risk from flood damage.
  • A structure can take weeks to dry, especially in high humidity conditions.
  • Microorganisms can penetrate deeply into porous building materials. Be prepared to do some demolition and have these materials removed and properly disposed of.
  • High humidity encourages the growth of dust mites.
  • Mold only takes 24-48 hours to develop.


If you have been a victim of a flood or other natural disaster, you have already lost a lot, but you may have to lose some items of sentimental value that may have been damaged but survived. Items which have absorbed flood water are not safe to keep if they cannot be thoroughly cleaned and decontaminated. Sentiment is not more important than health.

And remember, natural disasters can expose dangerous materials that would otherwise have remained safe, like asbestos or lead paint. Don’t take any chances with these substances during your cleanup process. Contact a professional cleaning or demolition company to remove these materials safely. Your situation is precarious enough without adding the danger of asbestos related disease or lead poisoning!

Read all of the EPA’s recommendations about cleaning up after a flood HERE.

Wendy Stackhouse has been the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other environmental services, since October of 2011. Her parents are still without power in New Jersey as of publication of this article. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter for more updates on indoor air challenges!

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