Climate Change, Flooding, Moisture, Mold, And Your Health
Floods are one of the most devastating natural disasters, and thanks to climate change, they're becoming increasingly more common. In 2021, there were a total of 223 recorded flood disasters, an increase from 163 the previous year. As the effects of climate change become more prevalent, scientists expect to see an increase in the number of yearly natural disasters, which have real-world ramifications affecting millions of lives.
What Is A Flood?
A flood is when water accumulates over land that is normally dry. There are three causes of flooding, overflow of tidal water or inland waters, like streams or rivers, and unexpected water accumulation from sources like levee or dam breaches or excessive rainfall.
Types Of Floods
- Coastal Floods
Coastal flooding occurs when high winds from a coastal storm like a nor-easter or hurricane cause a wall of water, known as a storm surge, to crash against the land. Storm surges can devastate the surrounding community since they occur suddenly and without warning, and with around 8.6 million people living in a susceptible area, it's easy to see the widespread damage they can cause. Coastal flooding can also produce smaller high tide floods that cover roads and fill storm drains.
- River Floods
River flooding is when a stream or river overflows into the surrounding areas. Generally occurring in spring or late winter, river flooding is brought on by ice jams, rapid snow melts, and excessive rainfall. Over 41 million Americans are at risk of river flooding.
- Urban Floods
Urban floods are caused specifically by rainfall, not a surrounding body of water. Heavy rain fills storm drains and causes runoffs that cover roads and buildings in highly populated areas.
- Flash Floods
Flash floods are some of the most deadly and terrifying natural disasters. Flash flooding happens when heavy rainfall occurs over a short period of time and can affect any area, but low-lying regions are the most vulnerable. They also occur when a levee or dam breaks, causing sudden water overflow into the surrounding areas.
How Climate Change Can Cause Flooding
When discussing how climate change causes flooding, it is often difficult to find a direct correlation since floods include so many variables like human and weather-related factors. This difficulty is exasperated by the limited data available from past floods, including local weather conditions, rainfall, and temperature, making it more challenging to compare them to the ones that occur today. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) created a report on climate extremes, providing more in-depth detailing of how climate change has had a detectable influence on multiple variables that increase the chances of a flood occurring. These variables include increased rainfall and earlier and more extensive snowmelt. Simply speaking, while climate change may not directly cause flooding, it worsens the responsible factors. This conclusion is solidified by the fact that there are more floods in the Midwest, Mississippi River Valley, and the Northeast than in previous years. Additionally, the instances of coastal flooding have doubled over only a few decades.
How Flooding Causes Mold
The dangers of flooding go beyond the obvious risk of bodily and property damage and death; devastation can occur after the water levels subside. Many people fail to consider the long-term ramifications floods have on a structure, making mold a silent but deadly invader.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a multicellular fungus that produces spores and requires moisture to grow. Mold can occur both indoors and out and is prevalent after floodings. Although there are thousands of mold varieties, and some are helpful (most notably penicillin), mold that occurs within a property after water damage is detrimental and can cause many health problems.
Why Is Mold Harmful?
Mold is harmful for two main reasons, both of which can wreak havoc following a flood. Firstly, as mold grows, it feeds on whatever it's developing on top of, causing irreversible damage to the structure. Secondly, it releases microscopic spores that fill the surrounding air, causing anyone in the vicinity to breathe them in, causing respiratory issues. One of the most common and harmful types of molds is Stachybotrys Chartarum or black mold, and it can have deadly consequences when inhaled.
How Mold Exposure Affects Health
Mold exposure can lead to many symptoms ranging from mild to severe and, in some cases, death. Although the chances of dying are relatively slim with minimal exposure, those with pre-existing conditions who are more susceptible to developing extreme side effects are at an increased risk. Common exposure symptoms include:
- Nasal congestion
- Dry skin
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy nose, eyes, or throat
in extreme cases, mold can cause those with asthma and lung conditions to experience worsening symptoms, including:
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme coughing
How To Prevent Mold From Growing
Mold prevention is necessary after experiencing a flood or water damage of any severity. Even a leaking pipe can cause a mold infestation to occur. The key to preventing mold from growing in your home or business is to remove and control the interior moisture levels, which you can do in a few ways:
- Keep the humidity levels under 50% using a dehumidifier
- Ensure proper circulation with a quality air mover
- Fix any water leaks immediately
- Use an air cleaner or scrubber post-damage to eliminate airborne spores
If you've experienced a flood or leak and are dealing with harmful mold due to water damage, BreatheEZ has everything you need to make the air in your home safe again. Our wide range of mold air purifiers will filter out airborne spores so that you can breathe easily. We also have a large selection of air dryers that will quickly remove excess moisture, preventing mold from growing or spreading.
At BreatheEZ, we carry specified air purifiers to ensure your family and employees stays healthy all year long, including:
Don't let mold harm your family's health. With BreatheEZ, you can ensure your home's air is always fresh and clean.