seal  Purdue News

July 14, 2003

Along with flooding comes health concerns

As people throughout Indiana begin cleaning up after recent flooding, a Purdue University nursing professor says it is important to remember public health problems that come with the water.

"Mold typically thrives in wet conditions and flood waters, said Pam Aaltonen, a public health expert. "Mold can ruin the surfaces it grows on and causes health problems, particularly for people with allergies, asthma or immune deficiencies. Some things need to be cleaned professionally, and people should take the health consequences very seriously."

Aaltonen said the American Red Cross, Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help homeowners determine the best way to clean mold from their homes and property.

Aaltonen said there also are heath concerns about standing water. Not only is the water good shelter for mosquito larvae, but also it can contain dangerous contaminants.

"We don't know what the quality of water in a flooded area will be," Aaltonen said. "It can be contaminated with sewage or other contaminants. Diseases like hepatitis A and tetanus can be transferred through contaminated water."

Aaltonen stressed that families should take health concerns seriously and weigh them into their decisions about when to return to their homes.

CONTACT: Aaltonen, (765) 494-4041,