Protective Clothing for Mold Removal and Remediation
Mold removal and remediation can be very dirty, tedious, and sometimes even dangerous, especially if you are not wearing the proper protective equipment. However, if you are not educated on the proper mold removal and remediation guidelines as provided by OSHA and other state and federal regulatory committees, then you are going to have problems when removing and remediating mold; not just from a rules standpoint, but more importantly from a safety standpoint. Here, we want to make the process safer, but also simpler. So, to do this, we have put together this protective clothing for mold removal guide to help assist you in determining what to do when removing mold, and how to do it safely and properly within rules and regulations.
Generally speaking, mold removal projects are usually split up into 4 different categories depending on the size of the problem and the extent of the contamination. Once you have categorized the problem, you will have to determine what equipment you will want to use and wear, and how you should go about the removal and remediation process.
Small Isolated Areas
These areas are usually about 10 square feet or less of visible isolated mold growth. If you determine your mold problem is a small isolated area, then you will want to note the following guidelines:
- Keep the work area unoccupied. You don’t need to remove anyone from adjacent areas, but it is recommended that any infants, people recovering from surgery, immune suppressed people, or people with chronic inflammatory lung diseases not be anywhere near the site, especially during the removal process.
- You do not necessarily need to contain the work area.
- Dust suppression methods should be used, such as misting as opposed to soaking surfaces prior to remediation.
- Trash all water-damaged materials and materials that are visibly coated with mold that cannot be cleaned. This would consist of porous materials like carpeting, drywall, or insulation that have been wet for at least 48 hours.
- Seal all materials being removed in plastic bags. If you don’t, then you could quickly have a mold problem stemming from your garbage.
- Minimize dust disturbance to reduce spreading of fungal spores.
- NEVER eat, drink, or smoke within the work area.
- Be sure to have a natural or local exhaust ventilation available and working during the ENTIRE removal process.
- Use detergent to clean hard and non-porous materials. Once you rinse them, you may need to disinfect them with a biocide such as bleach. NEVER mix bleach with products that contain ammonia.
- Once the entire area has been cleaned and is COMPLETELY dry, then vacuum the area with a HEPA vacuum. You can also use HEPA vacuums for dust that has settled on surfaces outside the work area.
- Work areas used by remediation workers for egress should be cleaned with a damp cloth or mop. You will want to use a detergent solution for this.
- Leave the area COMPLETELY clean, dry, and free of any visible debris.
Mid-Sized Isolated Areas
Mid-sized areas are usually around 10-30 square feet of visible mold. If your problem is a mid-sized mold area, then you will follow all the guidelines listed below the small isolated mold areas. The only differences are:
- The area is a little bigger, so you will have to adjust the amount of cleaning supplies you need accordingly.
- Containment is not completely necessary, but it is recommended that you cover surfaces in the work area that could become contaminated further with secured plastic sheets that will contain dust and debris.
- Again, leave the area COMPLETELY clean, dry, and free of any visible debris.
Large Isolated Areas
Large isolated areas usually consist of an area of isolated mold that is 30 to 100 contiguous square feet. If you have a large mold problem, then you will want to follow these guidelines:
- Develop a logical remediation plan. If you expect abatement procedures to produce a lot of dust, then you will want to follow the extensive contamination procedures below. This usually includes abrasive cleaning of contaminated surfaces, demolition of plaster walls, or the mold concentration is visibly heavy.
- Before starting work, consult with industrial hygienists and other environmental health and safety professionals who have previous experience performing microbial investigations or mold remediation.
- The work areas AND areas directly adjacent to the work area should be unoccupied.
- Any surfaces that could become contaminated further should be secured with plastic sheets that will contain dust and debris from spreading.
- Seal any ventilation ducts or grills within the work area as well as areas directly adjacent.
- Use dust suppression methods like you would with a small or mid-sized project.
- Clean and remove materials like you would with a small or mid-sized project.
- Areas in and around the work area should be HEPA vacuumed and cleaned with a damp cloth or mop. Use a detergent solution for this.
- Like any other mold area, ALL AREAS should be COMPLETELY dry and free from contamination and debris.
Unfortunately, sometimes your mold problem will be extensive. These areas are usually over 100 contiguous square feet of mold and the contamination is severe. For these types of projects, follow these guidelines:
- Since the area is larger than 100 square feet, your remediation plan should address the work area isolation, the use of exhaust fans with HEPA filtration, and the design of airlocks and a decontamination room.
- Consult with industrial hygienists and other environmental health and safety professionals before starting the project like you would with a large project.
- The work area should be unoccupied. Anyone who is not involved in the mold removal or remediation process should be nowhere near the work space unless you are 100% confident that all mold spores are contained. Regardless, infants, people with disabilities, people recovering from surgery, immune suppressed people, and people with chronic inflammatory lung diseases should not be anywhere near the work space, regardless of the level of containment.
- Cover and seal any surfaces that could be contaminated further during the course of removal. Use duct tape to tape the plastic sheeting down.
- Contain the affected area. COMPLETELY isolate the area that will be evaluated and remediated. Use air locks at entry and exit points and provide a COMPLETELY sealed decontamination room that is connected to the containment area where mold remediation workers must remove PPE before exiting the area.
- Turn the HVAC system off and seal ventilation ducts and grills in the work space and spaces adjacent to prevent mold spores from spreading.
- Maintain negative pressure within the work area to reduce the spread of spores to adjacent areas. Use can use an exhaust fan equipped with HEPA filtration to do this.
- Use dust suppression methods like we mentioned in the small, mid-sized, and large areas.
- Clean, seal, and remove materials as mentioned in the small, mid-sized, and large areas. Wipe down or HEPA vacuum outside surfaces of bags of material that are being removed.
- HEPA vacuum the contained area, the decontamination room, and then clean or mop it with a detergent solution.
- Again, just like any other sized project, make sure to COMPLETELY clean, dry, and rid the area of visible debris.
Protective Clothing for Mold Removal Projects
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is generally recommended for any and all emergency responses, recovery tasks, and operations. The general PPE equipment that you will want to have is:
- A hard hat for possible overhead impact or electrical threats.
- Eye protection that has side shields.
- Gloves specific to the job hazards that will be expected. This can range from heavy-duty leather work gloves for debris with sharp edges or chemical protective gloves for possible chemicals that you may come in contact with.
- ANSI approved protective footwear.
- If necessary, you will need respiratory protection. When dealing with mold, N, R, or P95 filtering facepieces can be used for nuisance dusts and mold. For odors, use filters with a charcoal layer.
Additional PPE You May Need
- N, R, or P95 respirators; half or full face N, R, or P95 respirators should be used for areas under 100 square feet.
- Use a full face respirator with N, R, or P100 filters or areas larger than 100 square feet, areas where mold is heavy, or areas where a significant amount of dust is produced during the removal and cleaning process.
- For odors, use charcoal-impregnated filters.
- Use an abrasive-blasting respirator when silica is being used for abrasive blasting.
- Goggles that are non-vented.
- Protective clothing to prevent cross-contamination and skin contact with chemicals or mold. If the area is over 100 square feet, make sure your clothing covers your ENTIRE body. This includes your head and feet.
- Long gloves made of a material that will protect the individual from chemicals that will be handled during the process of surface cleaning.
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