Making improvements to an old house is rewarding and exciting as long as everyone stays safe, right? I often find myself reminding Robby to wear a mask as he heads into the crawlspace to work on a project. No matter how long you’ve lived in an old house, you never know what kind of surprises will pop up — especially in the basement where debris and detritus from old projects easily get pushed into the dark corners and forgotten about. Black mold can fester and sporulate, and bacterial and fungal spores introduced by animals can hang around in the dirt and dust for years.
Robby and I already knew this through both our shared background in nitty gritty microbiology (we really got to know each other in a college course on Mushrooms… really!) and some unexpected experience with black mold, but I recently found this article in CDC’s weekly publication of public health information (the MMWR) that was just way too relevant to not share with all of our followers who are tied to old houses in one way or another. This is good information to know even if you just live next door to someone else with a crazy old house. Check out the story on the Histoplasmosis outbreak and make sure you’re protecting yourself when renovating any old structures. As Robby has shown us before, animals do tend to make their way into basements over the years, and almost always leave behind scat or another memento (how sweet).
Wearing a mask or respirator protects you from inhaling dirt, fumes, and potentially sickening spores hiding within. We’ve purchased our fair share of masks from Home Depot and Lowe’s over the years, starting with the summer of scraping exterior paint. Here are a couple that we’ve used and recommend:
Thanks for reading, and stay safe out there!