Missouri’s recent historical flooding may have created an environment hospitable to mold in affected homes and other buildings. Proper cleanup is key to protecting health and preventing illness, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

If mold is present, individuals with certain allergies may exhibit symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, upper respiratory irritation, cough and eye irritation. Additionally, exposure to excessive amounts of mold can cause an increase in the frequency or severity of asthma symptoms.

“Mold can cause illness, but it’s important not to panic if you find mold in your home,” Missouri DHSS Communications Director Sara O’Connor said. “Personal protection can safeguard your health during remediation. The proper cleaning or removal of mold-affected items will reduce the risk of future issues.”

DHSS offers the following tips to clean mold safely and properly:

• Wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, a mask and goggles to protect your eyes, nose, mouth and skin.

• Throw away any items that were wet with flood water and couldn’t be cleaned and dried completely within 24 to 48 hours. Take photos of any items discarded for insurance purposes.

• Flood-related mold on non-porous surfaces should be cleaned with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water. Use caution; do not breathe fumes and avoid contact with skin.

• Open all doors and windows while you are working in the building and leave as many open as you safely can when you leave.

• Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture when electricity is safe to use.

• Do not cover mold. Remove it instead. Painting or caulking over mold will not prevent it from growing.