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Mold Inspection and Testing

How serious are mold problems in flooded homes in the Bay Area?

First comes the flood, next comes the mold. For many residents of San Jose, the side effects of mold exposure have already begun: sneezing and coughing.

A week after the Joan Rivas-Cosby left her Olinder neighborhood home, the ceiling of her basement, where standing water sat for days, turned into a petri dish of mold growth. It was speckled with fuzzy green and blue spores, and they were growing on virtually every panel on the ceiling.

“It’s heart-wrenching,” said Rivas-Cosby said, who has been widowed twice and is the mother of two adult children. “Nothing is the same anymore. Everything for me has changed overnight.”

San Jose, Felton, Guerneville – and more – floodwaters in Northern California have sparked a surge in mold growth in countless homes throughout the region.

For a lot of San Jose residents, Coyote Creek floodwaters, have sparked a deluge of confusion: the sudden and unexpected loss of personal property followed by the headaches of dealing with insurance issues and shady contractors. Then the worries about the filthy conditions the floodwaters left behind and the mold that it could cause that could potentially jeopardize residents’ health.

If mold isn’t taken care of quickly, it will spread throughout the home and colonize, creating conditions that are ripe for a series of potentially serious health problems: runny noses, watery eyes, scratchy throats, respiratory infections, and even worse, said Dr. Lisa Hernandez, a Santa Clara County deputy health officer.

Those who have compromised immune systems, chronic lung illnesses, and allergies, can develop serious lung infections when they are exposed to mold, said Hernandez.

“Most people will not have reactions, but those at highest risk really are – and that is why we care about cleaning up mold,” Dr. Catherine Forest, a family medicine physician at Stanford Health Care. Dr. Forest said that she has seen more patients this winter than ever before, complaining about allergy-like symptoms that are related to mold and mildew exposure as a result of heavy rains and flooding.

It only takes 48 to 72 hours for a fungus to invade a home. As such, quickly cleaning up and thoroughly dry out water damage is imperative. Homeowners should consider hiring a licensed and experienced contractor to assess any water damage.

But Rivas-Cosby said that she didn’t even know that she had a problem with mold until more than a week after the flooding occurred. That was when she was alerted by a second restoration company that she had hired (the first one took her deposit and removed most of the water, but didn’t finish the job).

“We did everything wrong,” she said. “You don’t give business to people who knock on your door. We wanted the work done. We were desperate.”

Mold Inspection & Testing San Francisco has years of experience performing mold assessments in homes throughout the area. We strongly recommend only hiring a reputable and experienced mold inspection company to check for mold in your home, otherwise you could end up in a serious predicament. To speak with an MI&T representative, call 415.213.4831.