Mold is an expensive problem to have, as many New Yorkers these days can affirm. The floodwaters from Superstorm Sandy have caused a mold outbreak in areas of the city that were hardest hit, such as the Rockaways and Chelsea. Residents are scrambling to find a way to take care of the problem, but many are finding that they don’t have the means to do so.
Mold grows and flourishes in damp places, which is why we’re supposed to clean our showers and bathrooms often. Any area that has a recurring source of moisture is at risk for growing mold, and for some people that can be a huge problem.
There are many different kinds of mold, and not everyone reacts to it in the same way. Some may not experience any adverse health effects while living around mold, but those with asthma, allergies, lung problems, or immune system dysfunction can face life-threatening consequences when exposed to mold.
Mold can spread quickly, which is why New Yorkers are already experiencing a major outbreak and problem with it. But a professional inspection costs about $400 on average, not to mention the actual cost of removal. Which is why large business owners and organizations like NYCHA are the ones who are handling most of the issues.
“This has to be addressed aggressively. If you don’t address it aggressively, more and more people get sick. More and more homes and apartments can’t be lived in,” said Bill de Blasio, NYC’s public advocate.
The first step to taking care of the problem is finding out whether you actually have mold or not. Home-test kits can be purchased in stores or on the Internet for less than $100. But while these kits can be good for determining the presence of mold, they don’t tell you where the problem exists. Mold often grows in areas that can’t be easily seen, such as inside walls.
For homeowners, cutting a hole in suspect walls might be a good idea for finding the source without a professional crew. But remember, after events like Sandy, mold might be more widespread than can be easily determined.
Another sign of mold is a musty smell in the house. This is a sign that there is moisture trapped somewhere, and in all likeliness that means mold. Trying to pinpoint the source of the smell can be a good determinant of where it is growing most heavily. Other cues include walls that look like they have had water damage.
As for elimination, bleach can remove the spores but won’t get into porous surfaces like wood or wallboard—meaning it’ll likely grow right back. The only sure way to eliminate the problem is to eliminate the source of moisture—and for residences with major water damage, that’s something you’ll have to leave to the pros.