A common inquiry from customers concerns protection from mold exposure, particularly when trying to clean up or get rid of mold. Our focus will be on choosing respirator and filters.
First, we should probably say that there are a couple of considerations. Some people are simply more sensitive to mold than others and even small exposures will make them ill. Second, not all mold is created equal. Some forms, Stachybotrys chartarum (often referred to as black mold) can have severe health consequences. In both cases we want to offer the most effective protection we can. I mention this because for the average consumer, cleaning mold around the tub is not hazardous and we don't want to over react.
I'll talk about two key elements: filtration and mask selection.
For the filters, we want to use a HEPA rated filter. The terminology used in respirators means 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 best (most efficient) filter offered for use on respirators, and will very effectively trap mold spores. As a further refinement, a layer of charcoal will absorb the 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.
For mask selection, we always recommend using 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 are going to be using some harsh chemicals to get rid of the mold, so protecting they eyes is important there too.
They are offered in 3 sizes, though in general the fit on a full-face respirator is more forgiving than the half mask style. Please also note that prescription glasses are not recommended, as the temples will interfere with the mask seal.
Looking for a reliable respirator? The 8233 n100 mask is an ideal choice for those who want the highest rated by NIOSH filter efficiency in their mask. The respirator is approved for lead abatement, metal fumes, welding fumes, radioactive materials, and non-oil containing mists.
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 in a garbage bag and down the road rather than hanging around. The multi-gas cartridges should last a good while, and only need to be replaced when you can start to smell odors through the mask.
A respirator mask works only as good as it fits. It won’t protect you from hazards if it doesn’t fit your face properly.