Flooding & Lung Health Updates

Information from the American Lung Association in Tennessee

NASHVILLE TN (05/04/2010)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association in Tennessee is currently "out of the office" because of flooding, but we are still definitely involved in providing lung health services and information to the state of Tennessee.

If you have flood-related lung health questions (or any lung health questions), you can talk to one of our medical professionals by calling the Lung Help Line at 1-800-LUNG-USA and selecting Option TWO.

Flood clean-up and lung health information is available at www.alatn.org.

Dangerous toxins found in flood waters are a significant health problem for area residents in the flooded portions of Tennessee.

Standing water is a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses and mold, which can become airborne and put people at risk for lung disease and other respiratory problems. Contaminants in the flood waters can pose additional threats that last long after the waters recede. .

"Contaminants, bacteria, viruses and mold pose risks even after the waters recede," said Norman Edelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. "Any standing water-even from a fairly clean source like rainwater-can quickly cause health dangers for all residents. Children, seniors and people with lung diseases like asthma and COPD are at a higher risk of developing breathing problems from these contaminants."

The American Lung Association cautions Tennessee residents that dampness, and not just standing water, gives rise to mold and mildew.

Floods can bring into your home a toxic mix of contaminants that can include sewage, pesticides, and chemicals. The most important part of the cleanup process is removing all the water, including the hidden dampness that can remain in indoor areas to prevent the growth of mold.

"Mold has been associated with wheezing, coughing and in some cases asthma attacks," warns Dr. Edelman. "Some evidence links mold with respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children. Mold can grow anywhere there is water or dampness. Cleaning up all the wet materials after the water recedes is vital to protecting your health."

Damaged materials and furnishings should be discarded, including any items that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours. Simply drying out water will not remove the contaminants or toxins that can make people sick. Furniture and other personal belongings covered by water should be discarded to prevent mold growth.

The American Lung Association cautions individuals with lung disease or those with high risk of developing lung disease to seek help cleaning their homes and work places after floods.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends that any homeowner with more than 10 square feet of flooded area get professional help. Mold flourishes in this environment and attempting to clean without professional help may increase the risk of developing respiratory problems.

The American Lung Association recommends using soap and water instead of bleach for cleaning efforts. Avoid using air cleaning devices that emit ozone. Ozone has not been proven to clean indoor air and can harm lung health. Air cleaning devices can help remove some air pollution, but will not solve the problems. Cleaning up the water and damaged materials are essential steps to prevent respiratory illness.

For more information on cleaning up after a flood, contact the American Lung Association HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA, option two.