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Gross Filth KitchenCompulsive hoarding (or pathological hoarding or disposophobia) is the excessive acquisition of possessions (and failure to use or discard them), even if the items are worthless, hazardous, or unsanitary. Compulsive hoarding impairs mobility and interferes with basic activities, including cooking, cleaning, showering, and sleeping. A person who engages in compulsive hoarding is commonly said to be a "pack rat", in reference to that animal's characteristic hoarding. It is not clear whether compulsive hoarding is an isolated disorder, or rather a symptom of another condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

While there is no clear definition of compulsive hoarding in accepted diagnostic criteria (such as the current DSM), Frost and Hartl (1996) provide the following defining features:

  • The acquisition of and failure to discard a large number of possessions that appear to be useless or of limited value
  • Living spaces sufficiently cluttered so as to preclude activities for which those spaces were designed
  • Significant distress or impairment in functioning caused by the hoarding
  • Reluctance or inability to return borrowed items; as boundaries blur, impulsive acquisitiveness could sometimes lead to kleptomania

According to Sanjaya Saxena, MD, director of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders Program at the University of California, San Diego, compulsive hoarding in its worst forms can cause fires, unclean conditions (e.g. rat and roach infestations),[4] injuries from tripping on clutter and other health and safety hazards.[5] The hoarder may mistakenly believe that the hoarded items are very valuable, or the hoarder may know that the accumulated items are useless, or may attach a strong personal value to items which they recognize would have little or no value to others. A hoarder of the first kind may show off a cutlery set claiming it to be made of silver and mother-of-pearl, disregarding the fact that the packaging clearly states the cutlery is made of steel and plastic. A hoarder of the second type may have a refrigerator filled with uneaten food items months past their expiration dates, but in some cases would vehemently resist any attempts from relatives to dispose of the unusable food. In other cases the hoarder will recognize the need to clean the refrigerator, but due (in part) to feelings that doing so would be an exercise in futility, and overwhelmed by the similar condition of the rest of their living space, fails to do so.

If you are a hoarder or have been tasked with cleaning the home of a hoarder, please follow these simple steps.

  • Please do not try to clean the home on your own. Some of the items may have laid undisturbed for years and may be covered in mold. Moving items will stir up dust, which could prove harmful if it's been undisturbed for quite some time. Additionally, it's not uncommon to find dead rodents and fecal matter on or about items that have been left untouched for months or years.
  • Keep family members and friends away from the scene. Again, there could be a health risk as described above.
  • Try to locate the home owner's insurance provider's name and policy number. The staff of Bio-Trauma 911, Inc. will contact the insurance provider to initiate a claim if any part of the cleanup process is covered. If you wish to do this yourself, please let them know that Bio-Trauma 911 in Indianapolis, Indiana will be providing the remediation services.
  • It's important that the home owner is aware of the work that is about to be done. Unless someone has an active power of attorney, granting that person the legal right to act on the behalf of the home owner, then the home owner must sign our "Permission to Enter" form and contract to remove items from the home.
  • Try to determine from the home owner which items should definitely be kept (ie personal documents, certain clothes, photos). If the home owner is willing to, have him or her place a colorful sticker on the items to be kept. If nothing is to be thrown away, but rather boxed and put into storage, please let us know at the time you call.
  • In some situations, we may ask if photgraphs of the scene are available. If a family member or friend does not feel comfortable in taking photographs, please don't. If photographs are available, please let us know when you speak with us.
  • Contact Bio-Trauma 911, Inc. at 1-800-759-6960. We will ask if you have the information above. If not, we will work to retrieve this information.

We do not want to rush you through this process. It can be a very difficult and time consuming process to convince a hoarder to allow someone into their home, especially if personal items are going to be disturbed. Our staff understands this and will wait as long as needed to commence the cleanup and remediation work.

After you contact Bio-Trauma 911, Inc., we will start the preliminary paperwork. If the home owner is not ready to begin the process, we will file the paperwork and wait for the appropriate time to move forward with the process. Please contact us at 1-800-759-6960 when you are ready to discuss our hoarding and gross filth cleanup services.

This web page uses material from the Wikipedia article "Compulsive Hoarding", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0

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Facts to Consider

Bloodborne Pathogens

The following excerpt has been provided by OSHA.

"OSHA estimates that 5.6 million workers in the health care industry and related occupations are at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and others. All occupational exposure to blood or Other Potentially Infectious Materials (OPIM) place workers at risk for infection with bloodborne pathogens. OSHA defines blood to mean human blood, human blood components, and products made from human blood. Other Potentially Infectious Materials (OPIM) means:

  • The following human blood fluids: semen, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, peritoneal fluid, amniotic fluid, saliva in dental procedures, any body fluid that is visibly contaminated with blood, and all body fluids in situations where it is difficult or impossible to differentiate between body fluids.

  • Any unfixed tissue or organ (other than intact skin) from a human (living or dead).

  • HIV containing cell or tissue cultures, organ cultures, and HIV or HBV containing culture medium or other solutions; and blood, organs, or other tissues from experimental animals infected with HIV or HBV."