Protecting your health during mold cleanup

When you’ve found mold in a home or building protecting your health, and the health of others, is of primary importance. Once occupants of the home or business have been notified clean up can begin.

Can anyone clean up mold?

Depending upon the level of mold contamination it may be possible to clean up mold without needing a professional. But, at higher levels mold removal should only be handled by trained professionals.

Important: It is recommended that anyone with any kind of lung or allergy-related health conditions (like asthma or allergies) not participate in the mold remediation process.

Levels of mold contamination

The remediation industry has agreed upon the following levels of contamination:

Level 1

When mold has only spread to area of ten square feet or less it is considered a Level 1 mold contamination. Level 1 mold contamination is a DIY job that anyone can take care of with proper precautions.

Level 2

Mold damage that is in an area of ten to thirty square feet is considered to be a Level 2 contamination of mold. Like Level 1, Level 2 mold can be handled as a do-it-yourself job.

Level 3

When mold contamination is of an area between thirty and one-hundred square feet it is deemed to be Level 3. Depending upon severity, a Level 3 mold infestation may be best handled by a professional.

Level 4

Any mold containment taking up an area larger than one-hundred square feet is considered to be a Level 4 mold problem. Level 4 mold remediation should be performed by a trained remediation professional.

Level 5

The definition of Level 5 mold contamination breaks from being based upon square footage. When an HVAC system (air conditioner, furnace or duct work) requires mold remediation professionals specifically trained in HVAC mold remediation should be used.

REWRITE ALL OF THIS: Further, if mold growth is extremely severe, or if you are in any way uncomfortable after doing your own research, you should contract a professional to remediate the problem. If you do require a professional mold remediation contractor, make sure they are certified, and have multiple references you can check to validate the quality of their work.

Staying safe while cleaning up mold

Use an N95/TC-21C respirator

Wear a medium-efficiency or high-efficiency filter dust mask or respirator to protect against the inhalation of mold spores. For the best protection, choose a respirator designed for particle removal such as the model N95 or TC-21C particle respirator.

Wear protective clothing

Wear protective clothing that is easily removed, cleaned, and that covers all areas of the body to prevent against any dermal (skin) exposure. You may even want to choose a protective outer layer that can be discarded such as a Tyvek suit.

Use gloves and protective eyewear

Other personal protective equipment that should worn are rubber gloves and eye goggles.

Seal off the area

Hang plastic sheeting to separate the work area from the rest of the home or structure. Also, use plastic to seal off ducts in the area where you are working, to prevent spores from traveling through the ductwork into other parts of the home or building.

Regularly check that the plastic sheeting and duct seals to ensure there are no compromises.

Monitor air scrubbers and flexible ducting

While working, periodically check air scrubbers and flexible ducting. Be sure there are no kinks or breaches in hosing or air scrubber seals. Also be sure to replace air scrubber filters as specified by the manufacturer.

Heed moldy material handling best practices

Enclose all moldy materials in sealed, plastic bags before carrying them away. Be sure that bags are not only sealed, but are not disposed in a way that they may become punctured.

Remove the outer layer of work clothing inside the work area, and wash it separately or bag it for disposal.

When disposing of gloves, respirators, Tyvek suits and any worn or work items, use the same care used for disposing molds and moldy materials.

Work in Short Intervals

If the damage is extensive and requires many hours of cleanup, work over short time periods and rest in a fresh air location.