Calgary

Government-OK'd flood cleanup masks not always enough, expert says

There are concerns the basic safety equipment people are wearing in southern Alberta during flood cleanup may not be enough.

Restoration expert says many mouldy basements require masks that filter more thoroughly

There are concerns the basic safety equipment people are wearing in southern Alberta during flood cleanup may not be enough. 3:07

There are concerns the basic safety equipment people are wearing in southern Alberta during flood cleanup may not be enough.

Like many High River residents, Neil Sonnenberg immediately began tackling the mess left in his home by last month’s flooding.

  • Listen to Dawn Gattolliat, an EMT who also does disaster restoration, on The Calgary Eyeopener:

"Everybody at first was coughing a lot, myself included," he said.

"We kind of jokingly called it the 'High River cough.' It was pretty common that everyone was walking around coughing all the time."

People developed coughs despite wearing Alberta Government-sanctioned N95 masks during the cleanup, which filter out 95 per cent of particulates.

But Tyler DeGagne, a professional restoration expert, said those masks aren't always good enough.

DeGagne said in his work with PuroClean Disaster Restoration he has seen basements that require workers to wear a lot more protection.

"Mould and asbestos would be a high-risk job and you would need a full face mask, which would require it to be fit-tested by a professional," he said.

But there has not been a spike in the number of respiratory illnesses since the flood, according to Alberta's chief medical officer of health.