Masks For Mold

Photo of Dr. Sharol with a big smile in oval photo frame
A photo of a woman in a gas mask.

Types Of Masks

The type of mask/respirator you purchase may change depending on if you are cleaning up a moldy building, or if you are looking for something to wear while out going into stores etc. Be aware that some masks can be cleaned/washed and some can't. Some materials tend to hold onto smells that may bother chemically sensitive people. I personally used a standard respirator, while cleaning a moldy environment and found the respirator had worked well, but I could not use it again as the mask now smelled moldy. The volatile organic compounds had impregnated the mask material on the outside, and I did not want to use it again. They are not something you want to purchase for one time use due to expense and waste. Perhaps if I had soaked it in hydrogen peroxide, or a quaternary ammonium product it would have taken care of the issue, but I did not try that. If someone has successfully cleaned them, please let me know and how. The plastic and rubber types of material used in these masks are really hard to clean. I have used an N95 respirator which only takes out 95% of the particles and does not get the tiniest stuff. However, I used it when more sensitive, and found it worked for me for brief trips into moldy areas such as your local moldy post office. At least it helped. Still lets VOCs through but does help for quick trips into slightly moldy areas.

HEPA Rated Filter

The standard is a HEPA rated filter. You should look for either P100 or N100 ratings. That is, 99.7% of all particles 0.3 microns and larger will be filtered out. This is the most efficient filter offered for use on respirators, and will effectively trap mold spores. As a further refinement, a layer of charcoal will absorb the volatile organic vapors given off by active mold growth. This may be a thin layer as in the 3M 2097, or a cartridge such as the Moldex 7600 Multi-gas.

Full-Face Respirator

For mold clean up, the mask usually suggested is a full-face respirator because mold spores affect and can enter the body through the nose, mouth and eyes. Using a full-face respirator, we are filtering all of the air reaching these critical areas. It may be that a half mask and goggles will work, but why take the chance? Also, we need to consider the chemical used to clean up the mold, even if it is just hydrogen peroxide. You don't want it in your eyes. Just remember, you may not be able to reuse the mask as the outside of the mask will be contaminated. You may or may not be able to clean it.

Here is what PK Safety suggests and offers at their website. I am not connected to this company. http://www.pksafety.com

Our best selling full-face mask and filter combo for this application is the Moldex 9000-7600 Asbestos and Mold Full Face Respirator. They are offered in 3 sizes, though in general the fit on a full-face respirator is moreFull-Face Mask and Filter forgiving than the half mask style. Please also note that prescription glasses are not recommended, as the temples will interfere with the mask seal.

Once in use, we should probably think about changing the P100 filters fairly regularly if used in mold removal. The spores do get trapped pretty well, but it’s best to get them and other toxins in a garbage bag, and out of your environment rather than hanging around. Theoretically multi-gas cartridges last a good while, and only need to be replaced when you can start to smell odors through it.

 

Here are some links to purchase a variety of types of masks:

http://www.achooallergy.com/compare-masks.asp

Here is a place that is useful for folks who can't use the usual gas mask style due to the material causing a reaction, or the fact that in a moldy environment the mask often picks up mold and can not be cleaned well enough. This place has washable masks available for folks who are mold and chemical sensitive. They are minimal in protection, but many folks use them and find they give enough protection to make them worthwhile.

http://mypatioonlineshop.com/rz-mask-active-carbon-filters-natural-x-large

 

Remember The Rest of Your Body

Toxins from water-damaged environments get into your body via other routes than inhalation, and cause damage to many organ systems besides the respiratory tract. They cause damage from ingestion, skin contact and eye contact. Some are easily absorbed through the skin besides the contact damage.

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