Review of health hazards and prevention measures for response and recovery workers and volunteers after natural disasters, flooding, and water damage: mold and dampness

Added August 15, 2018

Johanning E., Auger P., Morey P.R., et al. Review of health hazards and prevention measures for response and recovery workers and volunteers after natural disasters, flooding, and water damage: mold and dampnessEnvironmental Health and Preventive Medicine, 2014:19(2);93.

It is recommended to avoid and minimize unnecessary fungal exposure and use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in disaster response recovery work. Any moisture or water intrusion should be addressed rapidly, since significant mold growth can occur within 48 hours. Systematic source removal, cleaning with soap and water, and bulk removal, followed by high-efficiency particulate air vacuuming is recommended in most cases.

This qualitative literature review examines health hazards and possible prevention measures for response and recovery workers and volunteers after natural disasters like hurricanes, typhoons, tropical storms, and flooding and water damage with a particular emphasis on mold and dampness. Damp buildings and materials are prone to fungal and bacterial infestations. During demolition and remediation work, airborne concentrations of such microbes and their byproducts can rise significantly. Consequently, exposure risk increases as well. Dampness-related fungi are associated with allergies, respiratory symptoms, and diseases like dermatitis, rhinosinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, and changes to the immunological system. Cognitive, endocrine, rheumatological changes have been reported as well.

 

Disclaimer: This summary has been written by staff and volunteers of Evidence Aid in order to make the content of the original document accessible to decision makers who are searching for the available evidence for Windstorms but may not have the time, initially, to read the original report in full. This summary is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians, other health workers, professional associations, guideline developers, or national governments and international agencies. If readers of this summary think that the evidence that is presented within it is relevant to their decision-making they should refer to the content and details of the original article, and the advice and guidelines offered by other sources of expertise, before making decisions. Evidence Aid cannot be held responsible for any decisions made about Windstorms on the basis of this summary alone.

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