One of my patients sent me a question about her home’s environment. During earthquake retrofitting, she was informed that some dirt in front of the house had to be pushed back from the foundation. After the dirt was moved, she noticed strange odors inside her house. Her concern was this: Was it microbes or mold? She wondered if she should keep the windows open.
I contacted Mary Cordaro, a Healthy Building and Indoor Air Consultant. She responded that my patient definitely should keep her windows closed to reduce the risk of additional complications. She indicated that besides mold, which is always naturally occurring in soil, there is also a possible serious pesticide issue present in an old crawl space. Mary continued, “if a house is old, it is likely that DDT or chlordane was applied around the inside of the foundation wall for termite prevention when the house was built. When old soil is disturbed, dust rises up into the house. Old houses have a lot of openings under the floors allowing both mold and pesticides into the room air. These old pesticides are persistent. They stick to dust in the soil as well as to house dust and surfaces inside the house.”
Imagine the dangers for young children and/or pets who live closer to the floor and have greater exposure.
If this is your situation, i.e. living in an old house where work is going to be done around the crawl space and foundation, there is remediation available. I recommend you seek a consultant before beginning the work so that you don’t endanger you or your family’s health from these toxic old chemicals.
My standard evaluation includes screening for exposure to mold or pesticides. If this interests you, call my office for an appointment (310-289-8430).