We recently had someone who follows us on Facebook comment on the suits. Our cleanup technicians were pictured wearing hazmat gear in front of a dump truck with cardboard boxes from a hoarding cleanup site. He questioned the need for such protection. Could those pieces of wood and cardboard actually pose any health threat?
Unfortunately, yes. And that brings up an issue for anyone who is considering assisting a compulsive hoarder with cleanup of the home. It’s more than an eyesore, more than clutter, more than piles of trash. Most likely almost every permeable surface is contaminated with some sort of contagious microorganism.
If you’ve wanted any of those TV programs you’re probably aware that they usually find mice or rats as well as rodent feces. Rotten food and maggots are common. So is mold. We’ve even seen dead cats found in crawl or attic spaces. And pet hoarder homes pose even more danger because of all the bodily fluids from the animals. Live animals present are often sick, meaning there is even more potential for health issues, since some animal illnesses can be transferred to humans. Because of the clutter, access to a bathroom is often restricted, so cleanup crews may encounter raw sewage in open containers in the home. Another health threat. Urine-soaked carpeting and wood, dried feces, and more pose severe health threats.
Many microorganisms are present in animal droppings and urine. Biohazards such as mold spores can become airborne, so even breathing in the air in one of these homes can be a health risk.
And then there is the safety issue. Exits are often blocked, and items are stacked perilously high. In many cases there is so much debris in the yard surrounding the home that it poses a challenge to get to the door. Often it’s difficult to safely gain entry to the dwelling, due to conditions both inside and outside the house. And those piles of trash may also be a fire hazard, which would threaten the safety of any nearby homes.
It isn’t the purpose of this post to dig into the cause of hoarding or even address it, but we feel the need to get the word out. Those hoarder homes harbor more than messes and clutter – most likely they are sites contaminated with microorganisms the can cause disease. And that’s why our cleanup crews get specialized training in the safe handling and disposal of contents in hoarder homes. And that’s why they wear hazmat suits and other protective gear.
MedTech Cleaners is a biohazard and trauma cleanup company serving many areas in the Pacific Northwest. One of our services is cleanup of hoarder homes.