As mortgage field inspectors, we are required to inspect vacant properties.
Often times we encounter mold in the home and depending on your immune system, this can cause instant headaches as well as trigger asthma attacks, allergic reactions, and sinus infections. There are literally hundreds of thousands of mold species which are all essential components of our ecosystem. They provide decomposition of many organic substances necessary to plant, animal and human life. Mold is a fungus that grows wherever there is moisture. Mold spores that pass through the air find places where there is moisture to cling to. Leaky roofs, pipes, walls or flooded areas are the breeding places for mold. In the past, we have been given liberty with not being forced to conduct interior inspections when we know that there is a mold health hazard.
Due to the inexpensive availability of face masks that prevent inhalation of mold spores, we can no longer refuse to enter the property due to mold. As often as we inspect the interior of properties, we need to think about our own health and safety.
For as long as you are in the mortgage field services business, you will no doubt continue to see properties like these:
There are three types of black mold that are less common but are considered very serious health hazards. Stachybotrys, Memnoniella, and Acremonium.
DO NOT…think that some of those cheap paper masks that you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes will protect you. The common cheap nuisance dust mask can only protect you down to 40 to 50 microns.
Just how big (or small) is a micron?
- The eye of a needle is about 1,250 microns
- Most pollens are as small as 40 microns up to 1000
- This dot (.) is about 600 microns
- The common dust mite is 400 microns
- The smallest grain of sand is about 100 microns
- The average human hair is about 50 microns wide
- Bacteria is from 5 to 20 microns
- Most mold spores are between 10 to 30 microns
So you see, one of those cheap nuisance dust masks will not protect you against ANY mold spores whatsoever!
It gets worse… Those black mold spores shown in all those nasty photos above, they get as small as 3 microns!
How to Protect Yourself From Mold Spores During Inspections
The mask you need to fully protect yourself from mold or anything else floating around in the air on some of those vacant property inspections you conduct, is the 3M 8210 Respirator-Partical Mask. This mask is government certified to protect you at 95% for all particles 0.3 microns or larger. Not only just for mortgage field service inspectors, but also for those conducting REO Property Preservation clean-out and debris removal.
If you search a little harder you can find these for less than .75 cents each. Not a bad investment when it comes to preventing headaches from mold spores in vacant houses.
This is what we do folks, we inspect vacant houses. You know that there is a good possibility that you will encounter mold. Protect yourself. Wearing the proper protective equipment is a business expense that each of you need to consider. Be professional and use the proper mask.