Mould Issues After Flooding? Here’s What to Do Next
The floods that have hit parts of Australia across New South Wales and Queensland have been nothing short of heartbreaking and so many people have been badly affected.
The clean-up and restoration process has begun as things start to settle, however mould and pathogens often succeed floods, which can pose a severe health hazard to many, so I'd love to share with you some ways to prevent and deal with mould if it is a problem for you.
What Can Happen If You’re Exposed to Mould?
You may not be aware of it, but mould could be affecting your health. Mould toxicity or exposure is often misdiagnosed, as it can act like many other conditions.
Mould exposure can cause:
- Irritated eyes
- A sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Difficulty concentrating, brain fog
- Dry, scaly skin
- Digestive problems
These symptoms can vary from person to person and range from mild to more severe.
Moulds produce allergens, irritants and toxic substances and can induce asthma, trigger sinusitis and even contribute to lung disease. Some people are more sensitive to moulds than others.
How to Alleviate Mould in the Home After Flooding
The most common indoor moulds are Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus. Stachybotrys, or black mold, is the most dangerous type. Mycotoxins are produced which if inhaled, eaten, or touched are toxic to humans. Getting on top of mould issues is really important.
If there are signs of mould in your house due to flooding, be sure to do the following:
- Cut the plasterboard about 50 centimetres above the waterline and remove it.
- When removing gyprock treat it like asbestos. Anything that disturbs mould spores could possibly also redistribute them. Removal of gyprock should not occur without containment and anyone attempting it should be adequately masked and protected.
- Remove any wall insulation as this can store bacteria and dampness.
- For any timber or metal studs, try using a pressure wash. Then, spray the studs with antimicrobial disinfectant and leave them to dry completely.
- If you have any hardwood furnishings such as tables, you may be able to save them through proper scrubbing with hot water and antimicrobial disinfectant to wipe the mould away from the surface.
- It’s not worth trying to salvage any soft furnishings, such as couches or mattresses.
- Replace or remove carpets that have been soaked and can’t be dried right away.
How to Stop Mould from Growing After Flooding
- Use a dehumidifier in your home to keep humidity levels as low as you can. I have been running my dehumidifier ongoing since the floods and it's amazing how much water it's collecting.
- Consider installing an air conditioner with a high-efficiency particulate air filter attachment – this can trap mould spores from the outdoor air before they circulate inside the home.
- Ventilate all bathrooms and run the exhaust fan during and after a shower or bath to dry the air. If you don’t have a fan, open a window or door while you’re showering or bathing.
- Fix any leaks in the roof, walls or plumbing.
How to Internally Treat Mould
Even if you don’t feel particularly sensitive to mould, your body may still need help safely clearing it out of your system.
To help your body detox mould, it is a good idea to focus on the following:
- Reducing inflammation
Prolonged mould exposure can trigger and exacerbate chronic inflammation, so I encourage you to focus on getting enough anti-inflammatory foods into your diet.
Anti-inflammatory bone broth, my omega-rich crispy salmon, and this delicious smoothie are all sure-fire ways to help lower your inflammation.
- Strengthening your gut microbiome
A healthy gut may just be able to save you from mould toxicity. The research shows that the gut microbiome can eliminate toxins from the body if the gut bacteria is in a healthy balance.1
To give yourself the best chance against mould toxicity, add Love Your Gut powder or Love Your Gut capsules to your regime. Love Your Gut can help strengthen the lining of the gut walls and remove a build-up of plaque, bacteria and waste. Plus, Love Your Gut improves your digestion capacity, which means you’ll be able to eliminate toxins faster.
How to Know When You Need Expert Help
While you may be able to tackle mould extermination yourself, it’s best to call a professional if you find mould that’s larger than the size of your hand, as this means the mould has a constant source of moisture and may be spreading across ceilings and walls.
The Best Way to Help Others
If you’re near a flood-affected area and want to help, it’s essential to look after your wellbeing while you’re doing it. Anyone involved in clean-up should wear complete protective equipment, including gumboots, gloves, and a mask to avoid ingesting harmful pathogens.
If you cannot donate your time, there’s plenty that can be done, including donating money or dropping items to local organisations that send them to people who have been impacted. Supercharged Food are part of the Northern Rivers Community Herbal Care program run by Erin Lovell Verinder which is a program to help sustain and rebuild a community who has been shattered on many levels by recent events.
I’m thinking of everyone being affected and am sending my love and support.
Hi, I am so glad you have raised this issue. I am only visiting Brisbane for 3 weeks and I have been sick since I arrived. Headaches, stomach problems, breathing difficulties and fatigue. I believe it is the mould and cannot wait to leave next week.
I am so sorry. I think a lot of people are experiencing this due to mould. I hope you feel well again soon. Lee x
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I know this advice is well-meaning but it’s also concerning. I recently had a professional test our home for dampness following the some relatively mild flooding (up past the weep holes in brick work on the exterior but no visible entry into our home). We have had mould everywhere!
His very strong advice was to treat it like asbestos. He commented that mould removal is completely unregulated in Australia and that anything that disturbs mould spores will also redistribute them. Removal of gyprock should not occur without containment and anyone attempting it should be adequately masked.
Suggesting that people simply cut away gyprock and replace it without adequate protection is potentially dangerous advice.
Hi Meg, you make a really good point thank you I will add that in to the blog 🙂 Lee x