For the past couple of years, the DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd. Blog has made it no secret that one of the easiest ways to improve the indoor air quality of your home is to keep it clean. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Dust, vacuum, mop and sweep – these simple tasks can do a lot to ward off allergens that significantly impact our respiratory systems. However, not everyone is a neat freak.
In fact, there are those who are the polar opposite of neat freaks. Hoarders are individuals who pack their homes with so many items that there is barely enough space to move around. And, as you can imagine, these items can get piled up in ways that create near-impossible-to-clean messes. Naturally, this only promotes poor indoor air quality in a variety of ways. And, interestingly, we’ve found that not enough is being said about it.
We were surprised to find that when typing in “hoarding” and “indoor air quality” into a Google search, the first three articles to appear belonged to our website! Admittedly, we’re pretty proud of that. But even we must admit that it’s been couple of years since we’ve revisited this topic. Naturally, we felt it was the right time to shed some light on how dangerous hoarding can be. It negatively impacts indoor air quality in a number of ways.
It promotes mould growth. Hoarders tend to toss their belongings into random piles that never seem to stop growing. Everything from clothing to food to electronics can be found in various stacks throughout the home, creating nearly no space for walking, eating or sleeping. What this does is give mould countless opportunities to develop and grow. Mould, you see, requires warmth and moisture.
In addition to the various hidden pockets throughout a hoarder’s home that provide warmth and moisture, mould is also never cleaned when hidden from plain sight. With the presence of mould in the home, it enables mould spores to be released into the air. “Mould is associated with some untoward health effects in humans, including allergies and infections,” says clinical toxicologist, Rose Ann Gould Soloway on Poison.org, “Some health effects attributed to mould may in fact be caused by bacteria, dust mites, etc., found in mould-colonized environments.”
It diminishes ventilation. It probably goes without saying that when you hoard, you limit or eliminate the ability to get any ventilation going in your home. Many hoarders have so many items piled on top of each other that they cover windows disallowing any air from the outside to enter. Without allowing air to circulate throughout the home, it enables pollutants to accumulate. Simply put, a hoarder’s home is full of stale and contaminated air.
As outlined by Manitoba Hydro’s handbook on indoor air quality and ventilation: “Ventilation of a home and the exchange of ‘stale’ indoor air with ‘fresh’ outdoor air are essential to keep pollutants from accumulating to levels that pose health and comfort problems.”
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are committed to helping hoarders reverse the effects of their habits on the air they breathe in their homes. We know that the compulsion to hoard is a complicated one. But it’s important that the quality of air in one’s home isn’t causing any further complications. If you have an issue with hoarding or know a loved one who hoards, you’ll want to contact a professional for help.
You’ll also want to learn more about our Air Quality Services so that we can accurately assess the indoor air quality of your home. For more information, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email email@example.com.
In our last blog, we tackled the topic of hoarding and revealed just how badly the condition can affect one’s breathing air. It’s important to underline the fact that hoarding is a condition. For those who believe that hoarders should just “clean things up”, it’s a bit easier said than done. Needless to say, a hoarder is the opposite of a “neat freak”. But, sometimes those of us who are “freaks” are referred to as people who go “overboard” with their cleaning up routines.
And while hoarders go overboard themselves – in the opposite direction, of course – it should be noted that it isn’t always something that they can help. On PsychCentral.com, Therese Borchard explains that compulsive hoarding is actually an anxiety disorder that can greatly interfere with a person’s daily activities. In fact, it’s considered a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which is commonly known as OCD.
Borchard reveals that research conducted by Dr. Gerald Nestadt and Dr. Jack Samuels of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that “compulsive hoarding affects approximately 700,000 to 1.4 million people in the US.” The doctors also point out an extremely important trait of a hoarder that may help to battle misconceptions about them. Opposing the idea that hoarders are purposely “disgusting” people who enjoy living in garbage, they are in fact “perfectionists”.
“They fear making the wrong decision about what to keep and what to throw out, so they keep everything,” reveals Borchard. As a result, it’s important to know that helping hoarders to improve their living spaces will take a whole lot more than ridiculing their lifestyles. In fact, eMentalHealth.ca insists upon a very loving and encouraging approach to loved ones who may need assistance with their hoarding tendencies.
“Praise and reinforce any positives,” advises the site. In other words, instead of using negative comments to shame and embarrass the hoarder, it will serve a much greater purpose to acknowledge any progress he or she has made. “I notice that you’ve cleared your couch. That’s amazing! How did you manage to do that?” and “I notice that it’s more cleared near your front door. That’s great!” are examples given.
These tips can prove to be especially helpful when you remember that compulsive hoarding is directly attributed to one’s anxiety. Borchard reminds us that, based on the research conducted by Dr. Nestadt and Dr. Samuels, “hoarding can be more about fear of throwing something away than about collection or saving. Thinking about discarding an item triggers anxiety in the hoarder, so she hangs on to the item to prevent angst.”
The eMentalHealth.ca website reminds us to acknowledge that there are emotions attached to the possessions of a hoarder. In order to properly help such an individual, one must validate his or her feelings. “Don’t lecture or tell the person what to do, unless you have build up enough trust,” the site strongly advises. Evidently, it can be a long and hard process to help a hoarder get over his or her compulsions.
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are committed to assisting hoarders with changing their lives. We have a lot of experiences entering the homes of hoarders in order to both manage their living spaces and assess the quality of their breathing air. As you know from our last blog, hoarding can negatively impact indoor air quality. For more information on how we can help, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever seen the A&E documentary-based television show, “Hoarders”? Perhaps, you don’t even need to watch an episode of the show to know what hoarding is all about. But, just in case, the program documents the lives of people who are stricken with unshakable urges to stuff as many belongings into their homes as possible. To say that their living areas are “messes” is a major understatement. And that’s no April Fools’ joke!
As mentioned, some don’t need to see hoarding on TV, as they experience such lifestyles themselves. According to eMentalHealth.ca, “current estimates are that hoarding occurs in 5% of the population (Samuels, 2008), generally in individuals in their 50’s. Nonetheless, it is hard to estimate how many people have problems with hoarding as many of them are able to keep their hoarding secret.”
When people develop an inability to throw things out, the process of hoarding has begun. As you can imagine, the packing of items on top of each other makes it hard for individuals to even exist in comfortable living spaces. It’s near impossible to manoeuvre around a home when it is inhabited by a hoarder. What’s worse is that hoarding makes for the perfect breeding ground for mould and other air pollutants.
As John Ward of Mold Busters writes, “hoarding can contribute to poor indoor air quality (IAQ), which leads to several health issues.” Among them are worsened asthma, shortness of breath, headaches, irritation in the eyes, nose and throat and chronic fatigue. Ward goes on to reveal that the top three ways that hoarding contributes to poor indoor air quality is mould-riddled household items, poor ventilation and hidden problems.
Mouldy items. Of course, with so many items stacked on top of each other in the home of a hoarder, it’s practically impossible to determine where mould may be lingering. Ward notes that, many hoarders can’t help but hold on to things that most people would deem as garbage. And this greatly contributes to mould growth. “If there’s a mouldy item in your home, mould spores are released into the indoor air and make their way throughout it,” he writes, “It doesn’t matter if you’ve boxed the item and stored it; you’re still at risk of inhaling hazardous mould spores.”
Poor ventilation. Obviously, having boxes and other belongings piled on top of each other, a hoarder doesn’t allow for much air circulation in his or her home. Furthermore, there is little to no ability to open a window when it’s being blocked by so many items. “It’s not only inconvenient and a hindrance if there’s ever a fire, but these boxes also block air vents and windows inside the home, leading to a lack of ventilation and, consequently, poor IAQ,” Ward reports.
Hidden problems. Perhaps, the scariest problems related to hoarding are the ones you can’t see. When you don’t realize that a problem exists, you do nothing to fix it. This means that you can be causing increased damage to your respiratory system without even knowing it. Ward uses the example of a leaky window that goes unnoticed. After just 24 to 48 hours, the moisture could develop a breeding ground for mould.
At DF Technical & Consulting Services Ltd., we are dedicated to helping individuals who have problems with hoarding to change their lives. In addition, we offer Air Quality Services that seek to address the long term effects on your health that poor indoor air quality can have. For more information on these and any other services, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-855-668-3131 or email email@example.com.