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How does hoarding create a hazardous environment?

Hoarding is the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. The behavior usually has deleterious effects emotional, physical, social, financial, and even legal for a hoarder and family members. In many instances the behaviours associated with hoarding may lead to unhealthy and potentially dangerous living conditions.

How does hoarding create a hazardous environment?

For those who hoard, the quantity of their collected items sets them apart from other people. Commonly hoarded items may be newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, household supplies, food, and clothing.

In many situations, items are stacked and packed inside the living space of a home with nothing more than a small pathway to move from room to room. Regular cleaning becomes difficult, and, in some cases, domestic hygiene takes a terrible turn. Biohazards begin to develop with unsanitary conditions and mould growth often begins to develop throughout the residence. In many instances, spontaneous combustion has caused fires inside the home.

What is hoarding?

Hoarding can be related to compulsive buying (such as never passing up a bargain), the compulsive acquisition of free items (such as collecting flyers), or the compulsive search for perfect or unique items (which may not appear to others as unique, such as an old container).

People hoard because they believe that an item will be useful or valuable in the future. Or they feel it has sentimental value, is unique and irreplaceable, or too big a bargain to throw away. They may also consider an item a reminder that will jog their memory, thinking that without it they won t remember an important person or event. Or because they can t decide where something belongs, it s better just to keep it.

Hoarding is a disorder that may be present on its own or as a symptom of another disorder. Those most often associated with hoarding are obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression.

Although less often, hoarding may be associated with an eating disorder, pica (eating non-food materials), Prader-Willi syndrome (a genetic disorder), psychosis, or dementia.

Why can hoarding cause a hazardous situation?

A lack of functional living space is common among hoarders, who may also live in unhealthy or dangerous conditions. Hoarders often live with broken appliances and without heat or other necessary comforts. They cope with malfunctioning systems rather than allow a qualified person into their home to fix a problem. Living in non-ideal conditions often leads to health problems, exasperated by poor hygiene and mouldy conditions.

First responders find it difficult to provide emergency care for people in a hoarder home due to limited accessibility throughout the living spaces.

Hoarding also causes anger, resentment, and depression among family members, and it can affect the social development of children. Unlivable conditions may lead to separation or divorce, eviction, and even loss of child custody. Hoarding may lead to serious financial problems, as well.

How does HazForce manage delicate family dynamics in a hoarding situation?

HazForce has dealt with many hoarding conditions and long-term, poor domestic hygiene homes. Our management and crew are respectful to the sensitive nature considered for all involved and treat each situation with professionalism, dignity, and care.

"Hoarding is a disorder that may be present on its own or as a symptom of another disorder. "

Jon Sperber

Operations Manager

250-510-4757 | jon@hazforce.ca

A deeper dive.

Graduated from the University of British Columbia in Civil Engineering, Jon is a certified AHERA Building Inspector with years of experience working with hazardous material abatement of asbestos, lead, mould, and biohazards. His efforts are focused on residential, industrial, commercial, institutional (ICI) and Demolition projects.