RI Health Department issues warning and gives tips on flood-related health concerns
ROCK ISLAND- The Rock Island County Health Department issued a warning about potential health concerns that come with recent flooding.
Flooding may cause pollution in water wells, malfunctions in private sewage disposal systems, and mold-related air quality problems, according to the Health Department. The Health Department has a few tips as people respond to these flood-related issues.
Any time a well is under floodwaters it’s at risk of contamination, according to the Health Department. Even if your well is above the flood waters, neighboring wells can contaminate the main water source.
If you rely on wells for water, the health department says:
- Test your water supplies for coliform bacteria. It’s suggested to wait two weeks after the flood to test the water. In the meantime, residents shouldn’t use well water for drinking, cooking, or other ingestion purposes.
- After the flood property owners should pump water from the well onto the ground surface until the water looks relatively clear. If the well was under water, a shock chlorination needs to be done before the water can be tested. Contact the Health Department or a qualified water well or pump contractor before chlorinating the well.
- Water testing kits may be picked up at the Rock Island Health Department’s office. The fee to conduct the test has been waived, but there is a $10 fee to ship the kits to a testing station.
- Anyone who’s well was submerged are encouraged to contact a water well professional to help bring their wells up to code. By extending the well casing at least two feet above the maximum flood level, future contamination could be prevented. Contact the Health Department for a list of licensed contractors.
Septic systems or aerated treatment systems in flooded areas may be failing, according to the Health Department. When the systems fail they may cause sewage backups or spill wastewater onto the ground or into the river. Septic systems may temporarily be out of service until the flood waters or high groundwater levels have gone down.
- Pumping the septic tank may restore service.
- Aerobic treatment units may need a professional to assess the damage.
After heavy flooding it is possible personal possessions or building materials were contaminated or damaged. The Health Department says it is important to clear, clean, dry, or restore damaged material within a few days. Otherwise, mold and air contamination may become a major concern.
- Anyone clearing moldy or water-damaged material should wear a filter face-mask to minimize exposure to dangerous particles in the air.
- Restoration companies are available to help assess what can be salvaged. If immediate action isn’t taken, items won’t be salvageable and further air quality problems can emerge.
- The heating and ventilation systems in a house can help spread mold around a house.
- Presence of mold in a home can lead to later health-related conditions, which can be difficult to diagnose down the line.
For additional resources visit the Health Department’s website.