Monday, November 14, 2011

Blockin the Mold

Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, as it's called, is the stuff campus issues NCCC members to protect us on the worksite. That includes gloves, a helmet, and safety glasses, earplugs, coveralls, steel toed boots, and rain gear. During our last few projects, we've used some of these items off and on, but Minot's been the first time that I've seen all of this Personal Protective Equipment used in concert. Wearing nearly all of that stuff at once, on top of your normal uniform looks something like this:

Diana and Hillary ready to go in the basement

Why is Diana (on the left) wearing so much gear, you ask? Because this is what it looks like in a basement, power washer on blast behind you, contaminated water splashing off walls that were once covered in sewage, pieces of drywall shooting out of hidden cracks in the wall. It's foggy, dark, and difficult to see, even with a string of lights plugged into our generator.

Power washing a basement ceiling

Mucking out a house

Removing floorboards to expose wet interior floor to dry

Sometimes it can be a pain to put on all the gear. With enough PPE for 9 people thrown into the back of our van, it's confusing to sort through in the morning. And because of contaminants, we have to wash our 2 sets of coveralls every other night so that we have a clean one each morning. It's worth it though, to keep the team safe. I certainly don't want a nail in the foot or mold in my lungs. And I usually try to keep the amount of poo water I'm covered in to a minimum, so the rain gear is my friend.
Some jobs are demo houses, where we demolish flooring, rip out drywall and nails; remove hot water heaters, duct work, and that sort of thing, to prep them for future power washing. When working in those types of houses, we'll wear an N95 dust mask.
Our sanitizing process involves carefully spraying every piece of wood in the house from about 6 inches away, then hitting it again with a soapy Simple Green solution and finally rinsing. Lastly we mix bleach and water together in a sprayer and go over all of the wood again to kill any remaining mold. Rain gear is a must when bleaching or your clothes underneath can get ruined. I learned this the hard way. (sad face) Then you've got the muck & gut houses where we shovel out basements full of debris that have not been touched since the flood.

Those jobs require us to wear P100 masks that filter out junk in the air and keep us from getting sick due to mold and possible asbestos.
Brought to you by AmeriCorps NCCC, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service.
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