Even before COVID-19 had been confirmed in the United States, stores across the country were selling out of every type of surgical mask and respirator. Americans are known for their pantries and prepping, and they weren’t going to be caught without masks because the rest of the world used them up. Despite requests from government agencies to stop buying masks, there are hardly any places left to find these devices. For mold removal companies and DIYers looking to clean up after flooding, the N-95 mask shortage could make mold removal dangerous.
The “N” rating for a mask comes from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and it means not-resistant to oil. However, the 95 means that it is resistant to 95% of small particulates. Yes, this includes many viruses and mold spores.
Surgical masks are loosely fitting, and they will not protect you from viruses or mold spores because they don’t fit tightly to the face. Respirators do fit snuggly, when properly fitted, which is what makes them useful in mold removal. The FDA has approved some N-95 masks for use during public health emergencies, but their efficacy is determined by proper usage.
It is debatable whether or not N-95 surgical masks will prevent you from the latest novel coronavirus that has spread panic across the world. Many health experts are saying that they could actually increase your chances of falling ill. This is because in order to put on a mask, you have to touch your face more, and the contaminated front of the mask may touch the face if improperly removed. Washing hands frequently and refraining from touching the face may be more effective.
There are potential reasons to use N-95 respirators to prevent illness, especially for those who are already more susceptible to disease (immuno-compromised), but they must be used correctly. They are much more useful in construction and clean-up settings where exposure to dust and mold can cause respiratory distress. But, we understand the urge to have some safety tools when a dangerous virus spreads through communities. It is just difficult to say that you are protected with a mask alone. In fact, some reports out of China say eye protection was just as important.
Mold removal can be dangerous when a person is stuck in an area filled with small particulates in the air because these particulates can be breathed in by the lungs and cause irritation. This irritation has varying risks depending on the health of the individual and the type of particulate, but it can be dangerous. If you are getting involved in a mold removal project, make sure you take the time to find an N-95 respirator mask. Hopefully, you will be able to find them in stores soon.