Irene is gone, but what remains?

PHILADELPHIA, PA.; AUGUST 31, 2011

According to asthma specialist Dr. Rey Panetierri, mold could be flourishing in those basements and crawlspaces - even if it seems they have been dried out.

Dr. Panetierri, an environmental toxicologist at the Penn Medicine Lung Center, says carpet and drywall can hold moisture for a long time.

"Even when your carpet feels dry, the padding underneath can still be very wet," says Dr. Panetierri. "And mold can multiply in no time."

He says many people who do their own post-flood cleanup forget the insulation and wood framing behind the walls.

Those, too, can harbor mold. He says D-I-Y cleaners should do what the pros do: get to that hidden moisture by drilling holes in walls, and drying out the space behind with air hoses.

Dr. Panetierri says mold can cause asthma attacks and make allergies worse. And this is the worst time of year for flooding, with high mold levels already in the air and ragweed pollen due to rise at any time. On top of that, kids are headed back to school, where they are often exposed to new viruses.

Many people don't make the link to mold in their basements or family rooms, because there is a 6 to 8 hour delay between mold exposure and asthma attacks.

Symptoms of mold-activated problems include:

* Sneezing

* Itchy, watery eyes

* Cough

* Post-nasal drip, froggy throat or change in the character of your voice

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