Mold Control on a Budget

Toxic black mold removal can often be safely and effectively accomplished by homeowners. With any mold removal project, observe certain safety factors, such as wearing a P100 or an N95 respirator (P100 or N95 face mask). Toxic black mold removal (or any other mold removal) can release dangerous levels of mold spores and other mold particulates into room air. You don't want to be breathing them in.

These masks can be purchased at a local home supply store for about $10-12. Try to get one that has a "punch-out" where the nostrils are, because breathing would be easier.

What do P100 and N95 mean?

These respirators are highly efficient, so that tiny particulates, such as mold spores, cannot penetrate through them. The P100 has a better rating than the N95.

Why is wearing a P100 or an N95 mask so important?

Wearing a snug-fitting mask protects your respiratory system and lungs from exposure to mold particulates, including spores and other inflammatory, allergenic particles.

  • Some people have ended up in the hospital when cleaning up mold, because of immediate or delayed hypersensitivity reactions where they couldn't catch their breath.
  • Other folk have gotten mold lung infections, where mold spores start to grow in their lungs. A fungal lung infection can be very serious. The medications used to treat it can be harmful to the liver and kidneys.
    It is easier to prevent a fungal lung infection than to treat it. Wear good-fitting, proper respirator! A lot more mold becomes airborne during cleaning, and especially during demolition, than prior to cleaning.
  • Caution: Wearing a P100 or an N95 respirator increases the resistance for breathing. People with heart and lung conditions and other medical concerns perhaps should not be wearing a respirator. If you do a search for "OSHA + N95 + questionnaire," you'll find a health questionnaire relating to the use of respirators. If in doubt, bring this questionnaire to your physician for review prior to use of a respirator. OSHA requires a medical clearance for workers who need to use respirators in their line of work.
  • A disposable N95 respirator, which is available from $5 on up in a local home supply story, MUST be designated "N95." In addition to the N95 designation, there must be a good fit so contaminated air can't seep around the edges of the mask.
  • Do NOT wear a simple dust mask. Dust masks are not good enough to use in toxic black mold removal or any other type of mold removal. Dust masks do not have adequate filtration and are not designed for a good fit, so contaminated air can be drawn in around the edges, and you'll breathe in mold spores.

Mold story

There was a flood in the common area of a Florida condominium. No one realized that water had penetrated into a nearby apartment as well. This apartment was vacant, with the owners living in New York for the summer. One day the son of the owners went to check on the apartment and discovered the extensive mold damage. He walked around the apartment checking this and that, without a respirator.

From that one exposure to severe mold contamination, the young man ended up with a fungal lung infection that may be chronic for life. The risk is not worth the price.

For information on the EnviroHealth mold inspection, call 1-888-735-9649 or write to Available in Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and other areas by arrangement.

Do a respirator fit test:

  • It does you little good if your face mask doesn't fit properly, and room air is drawn in around the edges of the mask.
  • To test, place the face mask firmly on your face. The elastic should be tight enough to hold the respirator firmly against your skin but not too tight that the mask is uncomfortable.
  • Next, cover the air intake(s) with your hand(s). Breathe in. You should be able to suck the air out of the respirator without any air leakage coming in at the edges. In other words, you should not be able to breathe at all if the air intake(s) are sealed off.
  • The biggest difficulty with getting satisfactory results in a respirator fit test is typically facial hair. Those who have beards may have a problem.
  • An official fit test for the workplace is more complicated than this. If interested, click on N95 fit test and then scroll down to "Fit Tests."

Other personal protective equipment (PPE) might include:

  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Disposable clothing
  • Booties to wear over shoes

When to consider VOC filtration with your N95 respirator:

Mod grows, and as it grows, it gives off gases known as MVOCs, or volatile organic compounds from mold. These gases can be allergenic or toxigenic, contributing to mold symptoms, including respiratory. allergenic, inflammatory, and neurological, as well as potentially being immunosuppressant. P100 and N95 respirators remove fungal particulate matter from the air you breathe, but they do not remove gases.

Consequently, if you need to work in an area that has a strong smell of mold, you might consider adding a VOC filter for organic compounds to your respirator. You can't do this with a low-end respirator, so ask first what model would enable you to have an add-on for MVOCs. If you can't find this locally, do an Internet search. One source is

Another way to reduce exposure to MVOCs is to ventilate the area by opening windows, perhaps with an exhaust fan in a window at the work area. Make sure nearby windows are closed, and be careful not to exhaust mold spores into your neighbors' property. Open a window across the room for make-up air.

Mold story

I inspected a house recently where there had been a flood several weeks earlier, and PLENTY of visible mold was present. The homeowner pulled out a simple dust mask as he walked into the house. I stopped him, went to the car and got an extra N95 respirator for him to use. This N95 face mask had cost me $5, a cheap price to protect his lungs. (3M sells 20 disposable N95 masks for $20.)

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EnviroHealth Consulting, Inc., 1-888-735-9649

Mold and other environmental inspections available in

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Updated 9-2011