When a person engages in mold remediation, or clean-up, they disturb active mold spores that can cause respiratory distress. In order to avoid being exposed to these tiny spores, a person must wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Here are a few examples from the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) about what to wear.
1. Gloves: The purpose of gloves is two-fold. Their first purpose is to prevent the skin from coming into contact with mold, and the second purpose is to protect the skin from chemicals used to clean mold. Detergents and bleach can be very irritating to the skin, so make sure you use gloves that are safe for those chemicals. Additionally, make sure the gloves are long, like dish gloves, so you are less likely to come into contact with active mold spores.
2. Goggles: Eye protection is very important to wear when cleaning mold because spores can cause an allergic reaction, or a condition called allergic conjunctivitis. This condition causes red, itchy eyes and can lead to corneal scarring if the exposure and itching lasts for a long enough time. Instead of irritating the eyes, make sure you wear full-coverage goggles. You aren’t trying to protect blunt-force trauma, and those pores can sneak in around the side of average safety glasses. Full-coverage goggles will filter out small particulates.
3. Respirators: There are many types of respirators, and different levels of respirators should be used depending on the amount and type of mold. For small areas, an N-95 respirator can be used that filters 95% of particulates. Small means an area under 10 ft2. If the area is under 100 feet, an N-100 respirator should be used, and full PPE masks should be used with large mold exposures. The full PPE masks filter all air that gets in, so no gas or vapors can get through either. At this point, it is time to call a professional.
4. Clothing: If you are working on a large mold project, your clothing should be disposable. Otherwise, the mold you have on your clothing will be spread wherever you go. Instead, wrap up disposable clothing and dispose of it with the rest of the moldy waste. You don’t want that stuff following you.
If you have an area of mold that is larger than 10 feet, or you are unsure about how to clean up a mold infestation, it is wise to all a professional. It can be done on your own if you do it right. If you don’t, you could be risking your health and the recurrence of mold.