How to find hidden mold in your home after Harvey

By Haley Hernandez - Health Reporter

As water recedes in Houston, danger remains. Experts say if your house had water in it and was not repaired within two days, there's a good chance you could develop a mold problem.

Your body may start to notice before you ever see it. Woodlands mom Emily Rachal knows the symptoms well. After being dismissed by doctors, Emily said she found a mold specialist who confirmed her house was the reason for her chronic pain and fatigue.

Two years later, her family is in a new home. Physically better, Emily said she is still agonizing over what mold did. She said her baby died after birth, and she blames his death on toxic mold.

“There needs to be more testing done when people are constantly going back to doctors,” she said.

Mold can cause asthma attacks, eye, throat, skin and nose irritation, headaches, stuffiness and wheezing, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Emily said the symptoms are from mycotoxins.

"That’s what the mold produces, that goes into the air, that's what you inhale, that's what lands on you,” she explained.

Emily said her experience led her and her husband, Josh Rachal, on a business adventure to help others detox. They started Texas Mold Inspectors. They help homeowners identify if mold is a problem. However, remediating the problem is done through a separate contractor. Emily said the two jobs are separated by state law to protect consumers from being overcharged to clean the problem by the same person who identified the problem.

Josh said knowing where to look and identifying where mold is growing can save your health.

“It will take weeks if you do not have professional, industrial equipment to dry out the wood,” Josh explained how to properly rebuild after a flood.

READ: How to safely re-enter flooded homes

With such widespread hurricane damage and not enough mold inspectors across the region, homeowners are rushing to fix houses.

“Every inspector is completely busy right now and that's my other fear, they're not going to want to wait,” Emily said.

Professional mold remediation can help clean mold from homes. The state health department has a list of mold professionals.

Josh said using microfiber cloths on non-porous surfaces can clean mold but tediously scrubbing with disinfectants is the only way to eliminate mold from porous surfaces.

If someone is cleaning mold without professional help, the National Institutes of Health recommends mixing a gallon of water with 1/2 cup bleach.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are ways to prevent mold:

  • Keep your house clean and dry
  • Fix water problems, such as leaks
  • Always use ventilation fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • If possible, keep humidity in your house below 50 percent, by using an air conditioner or dehumidifier

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