June is typically the most rainy month for St. Louis; but this year the rainfall was abnormally high with 13.14 inches of rain, 9 inches above average. Last month was the second wettest month on record in St. Louis history. This rain increase was in part due to effects from tropical storm Bill, which eventually led to Governor Jay Nixon declaring St. Louis to be in a state of flood emergency. Certain counties were hit harder than others including St. Charles, Lincoln and Franklin.
Increased Rain in the Area Means Increased Risk for Mold in St. Louis Homes
Because of the increase in rain, St. Louis residents must keep a close eye on mold growth in their homes. Mold requires three main elements to grow: an organic food source (such as drywall or insulation), a water source and high relative humidity. This makes St. Louis the perfect breeding ground for mold growth. As reported on KSDK News Channel 5 in St. Louis, Moldman has received an increase in calls for mold inspections due to the recent rainfall and flooding. It is crucial to get ahead of the mold problem by addressing it quickly to prevent expensive restorations and possible health effects.
Where to Look for Mold
As you are searching for evidence of mold growth, keep in mind that mold is usually found in obvious places such as basements and under sinks; but mold is often overlooked in attics and crawlspaces. Be sure to thoroughly check attics and crawlspaces on a regular basis and especially after a heavy rain. In the St. louis area, most homes have basements. If you have a concrete basement with a sump pump your basement is probably dry, but you should periodically check for moisture, especially after heavy rains. Some older homes in St. Louis have stone basements. Those typically remain damp during wet seasons, so keep an eye out for mold growth.
Health Effects of Mold
The effects and symptoms of mold exposure to individuals in indoor environments are relatively a recent concern. Thus, further research is ongoing to understand the impact of mold on humans. That said, typical symptoms of mold are thought to be: sneezing, eye irritation, nasal congestion, runny nose, skin rash and difficulty breathing. Those most at risk for these effects are pregnant women, children, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory and immunocompromising diseases.
What to Do When Mold is Discovered
According to the EPA, if the mold area is less than about 10 square feet it may be manageable without professional help. This is not a hard and fast rule but just a general guideline and other factors such as the extent of the water damage overall need to be considered. If the affected area is very large, located in a tight spot (such as an attic or crawlspace) or you are not especially handy; it is best to contact a professional for assistance.
Tips To Prevent Mold Problems from the Heavy Summer Rains
After a water event such as flooding, dry out areas immediately. Mold can form in as little as 24-48 hours.
- Seal wood and concrete with waterproofing chemicals
- Use fans in your home for moisture control and fresh air exchange
- Check for mold in attics, crawlspaces and basements at least every three months
- Use dehumidifiers year round in basements
- Allow for proper ventilation in mold prone areas such as crawlspaces and attics