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Indoor Air After Disasters

Posted on August 28, 2014
by Wendy Stackhouse

With Northern California (and our sister company Alliance Environmental Group) dealing with the aftermath of the largest earthquake since 1989 and both coasts awaiting tropical storms that could develop into hurricanes, we thought it was a good time to talk about the indoor air after disasters like storms and other natural events.

The Indoor Air Quality Association did, too! Here’s a very informative video they published this week:

Your house might survive a storm, but the damage can still be great to your indoor environment from floods and leaks.

Protect your indoor air after disasters by by:

  • Repairing leaks as quickly as possible
  • Drying wet belongings promptly–mold spores only need 24 to 48 hours to take hold
  • Replacing wallboard and flooring as needed–porous materials will not recover on their own and will get moldy if left in place
  • Cleaning up contaminants brought in from outside by flooding–flood waters aren’t all rainwater. Chemicals, viruses, and bacteria proliferate in floods, all of which contaminate your indoor air
  • Staying away from any asbestos exposed by a storm or earthquake–one exposure can be lethal–call in a professional
  • Peeling paint on an older home or building can contain lead–don’t remove it yourself

In California’s Napa Valley, they are dealing with some other cleanup challenges: broken glass and wine rather than water, but wine will mold quickly and so will the building materials if it is not dealt with right away.

It looks like Tropical Storm Marie is not going to hit California, but it’s only a matter of time before the California coast is once again suffering from storms, wind and lots of rain. Someday our drought will end and the days of flash floods will return. Being proactive and taking safety precautions after a storm or earthquake are essential to maintaining healthy air and a healthy environment, indoors and out.

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