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Rising sea levels lead to rising concerns about mold-related health risks

Nancy Arnold headed down into her basement the day after Superstorm Sandy barreled into Connecticut. She was shocked by what she saw: her furnace was submerged in five feet of sea water from the surge the storm swelled up.

After the flood water subsided, a fire department pumped out what remained. While Nancy was relieved that the water was gone, she had another concern: mold.

A couple who had painted for the Arnolds offered to wash the lower level of their house with bleach. Nancy was very grateful. “… They [the couple who cleaned her home] knew about the mold, and they Colored the whole basement. If there’s another storm, I don’t know if they’re up to do that again,” said Nancy.

The Arnolds have lived in their Guilford home since 1962. During the height of Superstorm Sand, the family evacuated to a community center for six hours. It wasn’t the first time the Arnolds had to evacuate. A year before Sandy, Tropical Storm Irene caused the family to head to the local community center, too.

After the damage that Sandy had caused was cleaned up, Nancy hired a contractor to install a new furnace. They suspended the new furnace from the ceiling so that it’s about five feet off the floor to avoid damage from any future storm surge that may flood the home.

“That’s as high as they could make it,” Nancy said. “If it needs to be higher than that, Guilford’s in trouble. But the way the world is today, who’s to say, you know, what could happen?”

Over the past few decades, Nancy’s concerns about the rising tides have been increasing. She has watched as the tides flow deeper into the marshes outside of her home. Guilford, a coastal community, witnessed what the future would hold when Tropical Storm Irene rolled in.

Over the past 100 years, climate change and the rising sea level along the coast of Connecticut have made devastating flood during storms a more frequent occurrence.

The flooding causes devastating damage to properties, which is bad, but what’s worse is the impact it can have on people’s health. After flood water subsides mold can develop and spread throughout a property quickly. As mold colonizes on walls, floors, ceilings, furniture – and anything else it grows on – it can cause adverse health effects. Mold spores are airborne, and when they are inhaled, they can cause a number of side effects; skin and eye irritation, stuffy nose, nasal congestion, respiratory infections, and even damage to internal organs.

Researchers say that residents who live in areas that are prone to flooding should be concerned about the increased potential of mold growth and the impact it can have on their health.

Mold Inspection & Testing Hartford has years of experience performing mold tests in Hartford and the surrounding areas. We strongly recommend that anyone who lives in a flood-prone area arrange to have flood testing performed as soon as flood waters retreat. To speak with an MI&T representative, please call 860.348.5188.