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 firstname.lastname@example.org.