The Many Ways Hoarding Creates Indoor Environmental Quality Problems

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Source: Clark Seif Clark Inc.

The building science professionals at Clark Seif Clark work to detect exposure hazards to keep families, building occupants and workers safe.

Chatsworth, CA -- Last month,USA Todaypublished a story about a California couple who plead guilty to charges associated with hoarding approximately 170 dogs in their home in Poway, California. According to the article, many of the dogs were in poor condition and the home was covered in animal waste.

Compulsive hoarding, whether it be with pets or just material items, is estimated to affect between 2 and 5% of the population. It is a pattern of behavior where the excessive acquisition of items and the inability to discard items can result in a person’s home being overrun with stuff. 

For those who suffer from compulsive hoarding, it can have numerous negative social consequences and create health and safety concerns. Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) issues are very common in the homes of compulsive hoarders. These range from exposure to mold, bacteria, odors, dusts and particulate matter (PM) to ventilation and humidity problems. 

“We are frequently called on to assess the IEQ of houses and even apartments where compulsive hoarding has created real concerns for anyone who enters these properties,” said Franco Seif, President at Clark Seif Clark (CSC). “It’s not uncommon for these properties to have water damage that is out-of-sight supporting the growth of mold. We also frequently encounter air vents and returns that are obstructed, this prevents proper ventilation and the changing of air filters. It can also create temperature extremes and humidity issues that could support the growth of mold or dust mites. The inability of many hoarders to keep their homes clean and free of dust and particulate matter is something else we routinely encounter.”

Exposure in these properties to strong odors or elevated levels of mold, particulate matter, dust, dust mites, pet dander, and rodent and cockroach allergens can all cause respiratory issues. To help in these situations, the IEQ experts from CSC offer building assessments and comprehensive testing services to identify exposure risks. If problems are discovered, the team from CSC can help develop a plan to resolve any issues and monitor cleanup and remediation efforts. They also recently sponsored an educational video about hoarding and IEQ that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/xffpK_OYYS0

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