Mold growing in buildings is a very common problem in the United States and in many other countries.
It can be found just about anywhere, including homes and businesses. Given that you are reading this article, it’s likely that you have a mold problem, or you have dealt with it before.
When there is a mold related issue in your home, the best thing to do is to address the cause of the growth and figure out the safest way to deal with the issue.
Mold spores are apart of our natural environment. That doesn’t mean mold should be growing inside your home.
The good news is that there are ways to protect yourself when working to remove mold.
In this post, we will discuss the personal protective equipment that should be used and important safety precautions that you can take to protect yourself and other individuals removing mold growth.
Any activity that potentially disturbs molds and cause spores to disperse in the air can create respiratory hazards.
For instance, activities such as breaking moldy building materials, cleaning mold from surfaces, and discarding items contaminated with molds all create a risk of airborne exposure.
Therefore, it is important that the right steps are taken, and the correct personal safety equipment is used during the process.
The main purpose of personal protective equipment (PPE) is to:
- Prevent inhalation and ingestion of mold spores,
- To create a barrier between the skin and moldy materials,
- Eliminate the potential for molds to get into the eyes. The sections below outline the types of PPE that may be used during the mold remediation process.
Protect Your Skin When Removing Mold Growth
When dealing with mold removal, rubber gloves protect the skin from contact with molds and potentially irritating cleaning solutions.
You can use long gloves that extend to the forearm. The gloves used should be selected based on the type of chemical used to perform the mold remediation.
For cases where mild detergent is used to clean mold, regular house cleaning gloves can be used. If you are allergic to latex, there are other types of gloves such as powder free or nitrile disposable gloves that can be used.
Wearing The Right Eye Protection
The goggles used for mold remediation should be fitted appropriately to protect the eyes.
Also, they should prevent the entry of dust and small particles such as mold spores. Using safety glasses or goggles with open vent holes will offer little to no protection during mold remediation.
So, it is important to choose eye protection that fits tightly against your face to prevent entry of mold spores or other airborne particles.
What kind of mask to use from mold removal? (Respiratory Protection)
The most important safety equipment that should be used when removing mold growth is a respirator or filtering facepiece.
These devices protect individuals from inhaling mold spores, contaminated dust, and other particulates that are released during the remediation process. The respirator most widely used by homeowners is the N-95 type respirator.
However, with the COVID-19 Pandemic, these respirators are reserved for medical personnel and are not easy to obtain. Before using a respirator, you should consider a couple items.
First, the N95 respirator is a safety device and should be used as directed by the manufacturer.
Second, many manufacturers state that to use a respirator, you should consult your doctor to ensure you are able to wear the device without having any shortness of breath or other issues.
And third, the respirator should be kept clean and used only once.
When used correctly, the respirator filters mold spores and other airborne particles from the air you inhale. This device has its limitations, they are not effective in filtering chemical fumes and other gases. They are only effective at removing particles.
Safety Precautions when removing mold
Mold spores can become airborne easily when disturbed. For this reason, containment or enclosures are setup to stop the migration of mold spores from one area to another.
The primary purpose of setting up a containment area is to isolate contaminated areas from any adjoining rooms to prevent the spread of mold spores that could impact the health of individuals in the home.
Containing Mold Spores
Setting up a containment is not necessary in all cases.
If you have small areas of growth, you can clean these areas without any containment. For instance, a wall with 5 square feet of growth.
There are some situations where there is so much mold growth, a remediation contractor is needed to perform remedial work.
An example of this is when the mold growth is more than 50 square feet or greater.
When setting up the containment, it should include any area or items that are contaminated with active mold growth. For instance, wall sections, ceiling areas, wall coverings – wallpaper, acoustic ceiling tiles, air ducts, and mold impacted furniture.
When setting up containment, identify all the affected areas that will be cleaned. Remember that active mold growth can be hidden in some instances.
The objective is to set up an isolation barrier to prevent molds from migrating into adjoining areas.
It’s important to identify all the items because the concept of mold remediation is to remove all active mold growth.
Not just some, but all mold growth! If even a small section remains, and the moisture source has not been addressed, the mold will continue to grow.
Taking the right steps when removing even minor amounts of mold growth is important. Safety should never be overlooked.
Wearing the right mask, gloves and clothing is an important part of protecting yourself. Personal protective equipment removes and prevents exposure to airborne particles.
These particles can cause allergic reactions when breathing in air contaminated with too much mold spores or other allergens.