Floods have swamped the US. The next health problem: mold

Author

Maryn McKenna

Source(s)
Wired, Condé Nast Digital

[...]

In 2004, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering warned in a major report that the health threats posed by whatever grows in damp indoor spaces were under-researched. A year later, Hurricane Katrina broke the levees surrounding New Orleans and flooded 80 percent of the city. One month afterward, Hurricane Rita flooded coastal areas south and east. The waters stood in New Orleans for weeks, and when they were finally pumped out, four out of five buildings were caked with mold.

[...]

It’s an important data gap not just because these illnesses appear to be under-reported, but also because climate change is making floods more frequent and more extreme. That is likely to increase the burden of fungal and mold-related illnesses, especially on marginalized groups who may already live in substandard housing or have been pushed to settle in low-lying areas or undisclosed flood plains.

[...]

Researchers thus face a conundrum: Their clinical instincts tell them people are at risk, but they have a dearth of data to prove it. Immune-compromised people are always at risk for mold and fungal infections; their diminished defenses render them unable to clear away the fungal spores that we all breathe in every day, leaving them vulnerable to organisms such as aspergillus and the ferocious mutant yeast Candida auris.

[...]

The ones most at risk are transplant patients who received donor organs or underwent leukemia treatment, and take immune system-suppressing drugs to sustain their recovery. Those people, researchers say, shouldn’t be anywhere near a moldy house, let alone working to remediate one, and should stay away from floodwaters.

[...]

Share this
Keywords
Hazards
Country & Region

PLEASE NOTE: CONTENT IS DISPLAYED AS LAST POSTED BY A PREVENTIONWEB COMMUNITY MEMBER OR EDITOR. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED THEREIN ARE NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF UNDRR, PREVENTIONWEB, OR ITS SPONSORS.
SEE OUR TERMS OF USE