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Potential health issues related to basement flooding


Flooding in your basement can be stressful and expensive to clean up and may cause damage or loss to some valuable items that are stored.

However, apart from flooding, wet conditions in the basement may pose some potential health risks to you and your family.

Indoor air pollution is believed to be responsible for more than 1 million deaths worldwide.

Studies show that more than 95 percent of households get some form of moisture and water damage in their basements each year.

From time to time you may also notice small puddles from minor leaks in the basement.  The water may become contaminated with sewage.

These situations may cause mold, mildew and other types of bacteria to build up over time.

Elderly persons, children, and pets may be most vulnerable to issues related to basement flooding.

Some of these health issues include bacterial and fungal infections, infestation from cockroaches, mice, and rats that may cause other illnesses.

Other health concerns from flooding may include cross-contamination, increases in asthma attacks, respiratory and skin problems as well as allergic reactions.


Mold build-up may cause discomfort in persons who are asthmatic or have other respiratory conditions.  Breathing in the spores can also lead to sinus issues.

Mold may contain fungi, protozoa, algae and other organisms that can grow very quickly in damp conditions.

Mold may also help reduce the air quality in your basement, by raising carbon monoxide levels which may cause breathing problems.

Persons coming in contact with mold may experience skin rash, itching, runny eyes, asthmatic symptoms or sneezing. Signs of mold include black or green deposits on basement walls or floors. 

Bacteria and may also settle onto basement walls and floors and cause nasal drip, coughing, itching throat, and ongoing allergic reactions.

Some types of mold may include: 

Aspergillus mold

Aspergillus is a type of air-borne fungus found in damp basements or even air condition units.

Exposure to the fungus may cause health issues in persons who have allergies or lung problems. 

It may also increase asthmatic symptoms and produce other forms of fungal infections like candida or Cryptococcus. 

Alternia mold

This is a type of fungus from mold living in damp areas.  It causes allergies that may relate to rhinitis or bronchial asthma. It may also cause death for persons with severe asthma.

Cladosporium mold

Cladosporium mold grows in damp areas including floors, walls, carpeting, paint, cabinets, wallpaper or air condition vents.

It may cause allergy symptoms like coughing, nasal drip and sneezing, itching throat, nose, watery eyes, and dry skin.

Exposure may also increase asthmatic conditions or sinus related issues triggered by fungus.

Severe issues can relate to shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing.   

Penicillium mold

There are a number of fungi from penicillium mold that can affect the air quality in your basement.  The fungi thrive in very little moisture.

Penicillium mold can also build up in wallpaper, carpets, old furniture and mattresses stored in the basement.

Cracked basement flooring, chipboard, paint, fiberglass ducts, and boxes and crates can hold penicillium mold.

Some signs of penicillium in the basement may be bright yellow or green mold in walls or items stored in the basement.

They will pose problems for persons who develop sensitivity to the bacterial spores.

Studies also suggest that penicillium mold may be responsible for damage to the skin, kidneys, spleen, liver, brain and bone marrow.

Typical symptoms of penicillium infection may include coughing, anemia, fever, skin lesions, weight loss, sneezing, and itching.

Other organisms living in penicillium mold include:

Verrucosum may cause severe liver damage or cancer.


Penitrem which can grow on food items stored in the basement.


Citrinin, and

Patulin is another organism which may kill mice and rats.

Cockroach infestation

Roaches living in a damp basement may also pose a few health problems.

They can spread parasites and bacterial infections including salmonella to humans.

Studies also show a strong link between cockroach infestation and asthma attacks.

Symptoms of roach infestation may include redness and itching skin.  Cockroaches may also transmit an infection called Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a form of bacteria which grows in water and damp conditions.

Exposure to the infection may produce symptoms skin rashes, ear infections, and soft tissue damage, and lung and blood problems.

Other symptoms may include chills, joint pain, urinary tract infections, red, sore eyes, and coughing and congestion. 

Rat and mice infestation

Rats and mice infestation in your basement can expose your family and even pets to a number of diseases.

Rats urinate and leave droppings on every surface they pass over. These particles can get into the air you breathe or you may touch them and pass the disease to another person.

Rats may also transfer diseases through ticks, fleas, and mites that may bite you and make you ill.

Some diseases from mice and rats include leptospirosis, Hantavirus, Lyme disease, plague, typhus, salmonella, tick fever, and other viruses.

Dust Mites

Dust mites grow in water and may also cause health issues if you’re exposed to them.

Symptoms of dust mites may include itchy, watery eyes, and sneezing and nasal congestion.


Flooding in the basement may also cause items that are exposed to sewage water to spread illness and disease.

It’s a good idea to discard all items including utensils and any food stuff stored in the basement that come in contact with flood waters.

Stepping into water that may contain raw sewage can also pose health risks. Make sure to wear high boots to help reduce bacteria and fungus getting into skin through your feet.


Basement flooding affects many households around the world every year.  Apart from damage to property, it may cause mold, mildew and other organisms to grow and reduce air quality.

Damp, wet areas are the ideal places for bug infestation, and the build-up of bacteria and viruses that may compromise your family’s health.   

Mold, mildew, dust mites, bacteria, fungus and dust mites can cause allergic reactions, and increase asthma attacks. 

Flooding in the basement can be reduced by using a sump pump. A sump pump will help draw water out quickly and keep your basement dry, and free from mold and mildew.