Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Health Hazards of Living and Working in Clutter




Recently I have had several of my clients cancel sessions because of respiratory problems and, yes, this may be an allergy but it could also be due to dust, dander, and even mold in stacks of papers and items throughout the house. I recently had some respiratory difficulties after working over five hours in a home with papers that had been scraped off the floor in another room. I could see hair, dust, and some trash mixed in with the papers. It is my own fault that I did not stop then to get out my gloves and mask.

Unless you clean your home on a regular basis, the clutter gathers dust. When you have piles of "stuff" you are not likely to move them in order to clean. This accumulated dust can cause lung irritation and allergy flair ups. Stacks of boxes that block vents also cause poor air circulation and lack of filtering the air.

I've also unpacked boxes of papers that have been stored so long there was evidence of black mold on the papers or books. You certainly don't want to breathe in mold and sometimes the papers are important ones that need to be kept.

Another health hazard I have come across is animal feces. If it is difficult for animals to get out the door or get to a cat box they are more likely to use the floor or go on the items stacked on the floor. Once an area is marked, animals will continue to use this space as their latrine.

Bugs and even rodents also love clutter. Mounds of material and paper make great nests. Bugs love paper boxes that have been stored on the floor for long periods of time. The presence of bugs and rodents is not a good combination for good health.

Tripping accidents and fire are also hazards I have observed. It's hard to navigate around piles of clutter and I had a client narrowly escape a fire in her home because of the clutter. Trying to navigate your way out of a smoke filled home with only pathways to walk is a very scary experience.

And while this is not as obvious, stress of living with clutter can affect health.

The bottom line here is that even if you are not close to staring in a hoarding episode, clutter can eventually harm your health. It's amazing how much better you will feel once you have your clutter under control.


Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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