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Underneath all that clutter, Peter says the team uncovered something that posed a major health risk—black mold. "We actually asked Marvin and Sharyn to move out of the house," Peter says. "One of the problems with clutter is air can't circulate in a space, and so mold grows very easily."

Besides being nasty to look at, Peter says black mold can cause a variety of health problems. During the cleanup, he says he developed a fungicidal infection that spread from his leg to his scalp. And Sharyn had complained of a mysterious cough that Peter says lessened as the house became cleaner.

"It's not that unusual because the clutter just physically causes so many problems," Peter says. "Eighty-one percent of people who have hoarding problems have physical health problems related to the clutter, respiratory problems."

To combat the black mold that infiltrates every room of the house, a crew of mold experts came in to sanitize every surface. All the carpets and upholstered furniture were thrown away, and several walls were replaced.
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FROM: Inside the Lives of Hoarders with Peter Walsh, Part 1
Published on November 16, 2007

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