Hurricane Damage 2017 – Mold, Bacteria, Insects, and More

Contractors, insurance carriers, property owners who may need assistance in dealing with hurricane damage as discussed in this article, call us at 1-800-344-4414 or email us at info@atlenv.com for details and a free estimate.

 

Written by Robert E. Sheriff, MS, CIH, CSP, President

September 19, 2017

 

In the aftermath of the devastating hurricane season of 2017 (Harvey, Irma, Jose, Maria and ?), there are many hazards to humans other than just mold.  Certainly mold is the most obvious.  Storm surge, torrential rains, power outages, and hot humid summer/fall days all serve to create a vast mold incubation condition.

Bacteria is also of major concern for many of the same reasons.  The longer the power is out the greater the potential for sewage to spread bacteria.  Also, spoiled foods in homes, food processors, storage warehouses all have the potential to multiply the bacteria that can get into flood waters and create exposure conditions as we clean out homes, factories, warehouses, stores.

Clean-up of water ravaged locations can pose equal damages to those providing the tedious tasks of removing water soaked clothing, furniture, fixtures, spoiled foodstuffs, sheetrock.  Both mold and bacteria present exposure risk to clean-up workers.

Although body, face, and respiratory protection may be necessary, they can present a heat stress condition resulting in heat exhaustion and deadly heat stroke.  Work schedules must consider these factors and provide drinking water, increased break regimen, plans for medical attention if necessary, as well as sprains, strains, cuts and bruises—all of which are likely when dealing with hurricane aftermath conditions.

Remember also that clean-up work can expose workers to the tetanus bacteria from rusted surfaces.  Receiving tetanus shots or ensure such shots are up-to-date is critical.

Finally, insect bites (mosquitoes, flies, spiders) are much more likely after a hurricane and flood.  Insect repellants and personnel hygiene during and after clean-up work will serve to prevent the devastation from leading to infection and illness.

Professional health, safety and environmental specialists are available to define hazards, risk assessment, remediation plans, personal protection and final inspections to assist as life attempts to get back to normal.

 

Our primary service areas for Indoor Air Quality Sampling/Testing are:  NJ, NY, NYC, PA, CT, DE, (Boston) MA, RI, Wash DC, WI, MD, MI, (Chicago) IL, VA, IN, (Atlanta) GA, AL, NC, SC, TN, (Dallas) TX, OK, DC, AR, we can service most other areas of the U.S. but with some added travel charges.