(Jefferson County Journal) – July 19, 2008 -- The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has released guidelines for cleaning up the mold that might still be lingering in buildings impacted by the recent flooding.

"The first key to cleaning up mold is to remove the moisture source," said Cherri Baysinger, DHSS Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology chief. "Clean up will not be effective if the area continues to be exposed to wet conditions."

Mold can produce allergens, irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances when inhaled or touched, especially those who are sensitive to mold, such as those with asthma or allergies.

Baysinger said mold should be scrubbed off hard surfaces with soap and water and allowed to dry completely. Then apply a disinfectant, such as diluted bleach, if needed.

"Especially if the water damage occurred because of floodwaters or sewage backup," she said.

Ceiling tiles, carpet and other porous materials should be taken out of the house and discarded, Baysinger said.

People cleaning mold should wear a mask, goggles and rubber gloves and clothing to cover as much skin as possible.

Baysinger said people who are hypersensitive to mold should consider hiring a professional cleaning service, but make sure references are checked to ensure the company is reputable.

For more information on mold cleanup, visit the DHSS Web site at www.dhss.mo.gov/Indoorair.