Review of health hazards and prevention measures for response and recovery workers and volunteers after natural disasters, flooding, and water damage: mold and dampness

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It is recommended to avoid and minimize unnecessary fungal exposure and use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) in disaster response recovery work. Any moisture or water intrusion should be addressed rapidly, since significant mold growth can occur within 48 hours. Systematic source removal, cleaning with soap and water, and bulk removal, followed by high-efficiency particulate air vacuuming is recommended in most cases.

This qualitative literature review examines health hazards and possible prevention measures for response and recovery workers and volunteers after natural disasters like hurricanes, typhoons, tropical storms, and flooding and water damage with a particular emphasis on mold and dampness. Damp buildings and materials are prone to fungal and bacterial infestations. During demolition and remediation work, airborne concentrations of such microbes and their byproducts can rise significantly. Consequently, exposure risk increases as well. Dampness-related fungi are associated with allergies, respiratory symptoms, and diseases like dermatitis, rhinosinusitis, bronchitis, asthma, and changes to the immunological system. Cognitive, endocrine, rheumatological changes have been reported as well.

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