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Tropical Storms, Property Damage & Indoor Air Quality Concerns

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Published on Aug 28, 2014

A tropical storm, also known as a tropical cyclone, usually forms over large bodies of warm water and are characterized by a low pressure center with strong winds, storm surges and thunderstorms that can produce large amounts of rain. If these storms strengthen in the Atlantic they can turn into a hurricane and in the Pacific they are known as a typhoon.

Although tropical storms may be less menacing in the minds of many as compared to a hurricane, these storms can still produce millions of dollars in property damage over a wide area.

The wind, rain and flooding that are characteristic of a tropical storm may not completely destroy properties, but instead leave a path of moderate to more severe damage in its wake. Most of these properties can be repaired although there are potential environmental hazards people need to be aware of to prevent indoor environmental problems for those performing the repairs and for the building’s inhabitants.

Any water damage and excessive humidity in a structure can allow mold to begin to grow in as short as 24 to 48 hours. Due to this fact, it is important to begin drying materials as soon as it is safe to do so. Some nonporous materials can be cleaned and salvaged, but most porous materials should be discarded if mold growth is present. Improperly removing moldy materials can cause the mold spores to become aerosolized and spread throughout a property.

Flooding caused by a tropical storm can bring not only rainwater into a property, but also viruses, bacteria and chemical contaminants. Flood waters come in contact with anything they touch so sewage and potential chemical hazards may infiltrate and soak a home or building.

Many materials found in older buildings may contain asbestos. When removing debris or repairing a property, these asbestos fibers can become aerosolized. Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Lead is also a concern because it is a highly toxic metal which produces a range of adverse health effects, particularly in young children. The disturbance or removal of materials containing lead-based paint may result in elevated concentrations of lead dust in the air that could result in lead poisoning.

These are just a few things to know about how a tropical storm can impact a property’s indoor air quality. To learn more about this or other environmental, health and safety issues, please visit the websites shown in the video.

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