Plus, learn which pollutants can be present after these types of natural disasters.
When a hurricane or flood hits your home, damage to your property from the high water levels and strong winds is likely top of mind. It’s a valid concern: Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans caused an estimated $170 billion in damage.¹ So, if you find yourself in the throes of home repairs or a full rebuild after a hurricane or flood, you’re not alone. Before you get your tools out, read on to learn what can be in the air after these types of natural disasters, and how you can help keep your air cleaner during renovations after hurricane season.
Download a copy of the checklist here.
After a hurricane or flood, emergency personnel caution people to stay out of floodwaters because they may contain germs, chemicals, human waste and other pollutants. Unfortunately, the air we breathe post-natural disaster can be just as harmful, containing a variety of pollutants.
If you need to rebuild after a natural disaster, construction can kick up additional irritating dust and pollutants to those mentioned above. Take these special air quality considerations into account when it comes to renovating after a hurricane or flood.
1. Check items like carpeting and rugs for signs of water damage, then inspect drywall and insulation. If it’s been contaminated by sewage or floodwaters, it should be removed and discarded to prevent mold growth.²
2. Wear appropriate protective gear — such as N95 respirators, goggles and gloves — when handling building debris. If you know your home contains asbestos or lead, these toxins may have been disturbed during the storm, sending harmful particles into the air. Call in a professional removal team.⁵
3. Don’t use any gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning machines — think generators or pressure washers — inside your home or near an open window. You should move at least 20 feet from your house before operating these devices to avoid a buildup of carbon monoxide.
4. Try to avoid burning debris or waste, which can cause more air pollution. Instead, move damaged pieces of the structure to a designated disposal area.
5. Prioritize fixing leaks in roofs, walls and plumbing to prevent further water damage and mold growth.
6. Painting and caulking over mold only mask the problem, rather than treating it. Make sure all mold is completely cleaned up before you add a fresh layer.
7. Once your HVAC system is up and running again, installing a new Filtrete™ Air Filter can help reduce the amount of dust and other airborne particles during construction. Additionally, a Filtrete™ Air Purifier can be moved from room to room depending on where renovations are taking place to help keep construction pollutants at bay. Note: Air filters do not help mitigate carbon monoxide or chemical compounds.
3. https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2015-09/documents/floods.pdf (PDF, 898 KB)
4. https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2016-10/documents/moldguide12.pdf (PDF, 1.38 MB)