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Massive Diatomaceous Earth Cleanup Questions

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  1. DETrouble

    Joined: Oct '14
    Posts: 1


    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Oct 22 2014 9:08:51

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    I live with an aging relative. Over the past two months another more disabled relative came to live in a sort of independent up-stairs apartment, she doesn't care for herself or her cats, so there came the fleas down stairs. After a few failed attempts with over-the-counter flea substances my (non-disabled) relative took pool grade diatomaceous earth and spread it all over the floor of the house. This was about a month ago. It was never really cleaned up all that well, chiefly because of a freak power outage that lasted four days after we did it) and most of it just wore into the carpet itself. Although it was vacuumed up (non-hepa) later. Well the (non-disabled) relative is unwilling to tell the disabled relative to take care of her flea problem (and candidly she most likely wouldn't anyways, its a growing problem that is separate to all of this all together) the flea problem returned. So again the house's floor got a treatment of pool grade diatomaceous earth. It was vacuumed up (non-hepa).

    The dust is still somewhat visible through the house and it can be smelled. I do have a long-term respiratory problem long before this but this morning I woke up with what I would best describe as a fever, night sweats, dizziness, disorientation, dehydration, weakness, shortness of breath, and cough. It has since passed. It prompted me to do some reading and I found myself to the lung illness 'silicosis', that diatomaceous earth used for pools is much more dangerous/toxic, and candidly I am bordering on a full panic. I am not hypochondriac but I do lean that way and this information has me bordering on a panic... moreover because the room I live in is very isolated and has terrible circulation thus it might be the worst in the whole house.

    I vacuumed again (non-hepa) and I got as much out as I could. Turned fans off to stop stirring it up. Looking around the dust appears to be just about everywhere and on everything... and if you read the above that is almost unavoidable considering the circumstances.

    So... I suppose my questions are as follows:

    1. How much of a risk is there at the moment?
    1a. How long is too long of exposure for silicosis to happen?
    1b. How much is too much exposure for silicosis to happen?
    2. Is it too soon to see a doctor about this?
    2a. Is there anything a doctor could really do about this?
    3. Will a hepa vacuuming of the house be needed?
    3a. If a hepa vacuuming of the house is needed how much of the house?
    3b. Any advise on rentals vs buying a vacuum?
    4. Is there any additional advise on cleanup or anything else that can/should be done?
    5. Any thing else not covered in these questions?

  2. bed-bugscouk

    Joined: Apr '07
    Posts: 18,188


    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Oct 22 2014 9:35:39

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    Silicosis tends to be more associated with the crystaline silica than the amorphous silica which is DE, further reading on the subject will explain.

    The first issue is actually how to reduce the airborne particles and that is not via traditional vacuum cleaning unless you have a special water filtered cleaner (they do/did exist). The easier and faster option is to use a air purifier that has a "wash through water action" such as the device in the link below:

    We have used these in the fast in locations where we are conducting dust removal prior to treating and its extremely effective.

    I would be more concerned for the level of dust and thus dust pneumonia before silicosis but if you follow the advice above and then tackle the removal of the excess DE it will help.

    I know its easier to say than to do but its best to focus on what you can do to make the situation better rather than sliding down a slippery slope of worst case scenarios and what could happen.

    Hope that helps get you off on the right foot.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

    I am happy to answer questions in public but will not reply to message sent directly or via my company / social media. I am here to help everyone and not just one case at a time.

    In accordance with the AUP and FTC I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bed bug infestations. I also have a professional relationship with PackTite in that they distribute my product under their own branding. I do not however receive any financial remuneration for any comments I make about pro
  3. Raising Cain

    account closed
    Joined: Sep '14
    Posts: 48


    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Oct 22 2014 11:21:47

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    David Cain wrote: Silicosis tends to be more associated with the crystaline silica than the amorphous silica which is DE, further reading on the subject will explain.

    Pool grade Diatomaceous Earth is calcined, meaning that is treated with very high heat. This turns the silicon dioxide that is present in the DE into crystalline silica. Pool grade diatomaceous earth will often have >50% crystalline silica content. Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth, on the other hand, is not calcined and has less than 1% crystalline silica.

    Here is link to pool grade MSDS which will provide you some of the info you seek. Call company/phone # listed on MSDS for further info. You potentially have a serious situation and should seek help only from relevant experts at this stage (pulmonologist, DE pool grade manufacturer, etc.).

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