As we reach over a year since Super Storm Sandy struck the region, a number of residents in affected areas including the Jersey Shore are suffering symptoms of what is being called the “Sandy Lung.” Symptoms include any number of respiratory issues such as: difficulty breathing; asthma; wheezing; coughing; etc.
Toms River, N.J., Mayor Thomas Kelaher said he has heard from homeowners in town who say they’ve been developing respiratory issues after being exposed to mold, mildew, and other irritants inside their sandy damaged houses, so the town is offering a free screening for people.
“For the first couple of days I had a mask on when we were down here, we were having troubles breathing for days after,” says resident James Angley. James Angley has been helping his grandma Lynn rebuild their Ortley Beach House, since the storm hit in October, 2012.
While “Sandy Lung” is not a medically recognized condition, residents and town officials are not taking the matter lightly. Public health workers have been warning residents in storm-ravaged areas that exposure to irritants like mold, mildew and asbestos could cause health problems, and could aggravate pre-existing respiratory problems.
“If they’ve never been cleaned out, they’re going to be filled with mold, and there will be a hazmat situation. There’s no question about it,” says Thomas Kelaher.
With the help of the Deborah Heart and Lung Center and a $625,000 grant from the Robin Hood Relief Fund- respiratory health screenings were conducted in Ocean County, NJ and Monmouth County, NJ to try and prevent serious illness in the future. Of the 455 people screened in Ocean County, about 14 percent were told to follow up with their primary care physician because abnormalities were detected.
What can you do to help protect you and your family against the “Sandy Lung?”
First of all, it is essential when dealing with mold, mildew, asbestos, and other irritants that you have your home properly inspected by a restoration company. The primary job of the restoration company is called “mold remediation.” Mold remediation consists of screening, testing, and detecting for mold and other irritants that may be lurking within your home. Once detected the second phase of the mold remediation process can begin. This consists of killing the mold or irritant source.
HOWEVER, once the source is killed that does not mean your home is safe from mold and other irritants. The next step you must take is to call a NADCA certified air duct cleaning company.
If mold was detected in your home- you can expect to find it in your ductwork. Your home’s ductwork and related parts of your HVAC system are well-known hiding places for mold. Thus, to ensure complete mold removal from your home, your air ducts should be cleaned and rid of all containments as well as properly sanitized.
If you fail to clean your air ducts after the initial mold remediation by the restoration company, then there is a good chance that the mold will return or your home will continue to smell musty and moldy. Think of the initial mold remediation process as wearing cologne or perfume- if you did not shower, it simply masks the smelly odor from dirt, sweat, etc.
Because air is continuously re-circulated throughout your home, without clean air ducts you are simply re-distributing the mold and other irritants over and over again. Re-circulation of air occurs on average from five to seven times a day; therefore, that’s five to seven times a day the same contaminated air is filtrating throughout your home.
Breathing in the polluted air will have many negative ill effects on your health including what is being coined as the “Sandy Lung!” So, if you are in an area like the Jersey Shore that has been affected by Super Storm Sandy; do not put you and your family’s health at risk any longer but call a restoration company and air duct cleaning company today!