Sunday, November 6, 2011

Adventures in Hantavirus Land

This Wednesday we got our second major snow storm of the season. This and we're barely into November! We got 8 to 10 inches of very sticky snow, so I got to go out and shovel the walk and shake snow off the trees. Unfortunately, the snow put the kibosh on our attempts at radon abatement.

Colorado has a plentiful amount of radon stored in suburban basements and crawlspaces such as ours. When we bought the house 2 years ago, the radon levels were a bit above what the US tolerates, but still beneath what they allow in Canada and parts of Western Europe, so we weren't too scared. Our realtor recommended that we get a long term test and see if the levels changed when we were actually living here. It took us a while to get around to it, but we did it and the levels are still high. Since we'll be welcome a little one into this house soon, and since we're planning on living here long term, we decided to get someone to seal our crawlspace and put in a fan to blow carcinogenic gases out onto our lawn.

The abatement guys were supposed to come on Wednesday, so on Sunday Jen and I took on the odious task of emptying our crawlspace. We hauled out a bunch of boxes and flattened a lot of them, an action that somewhat reminds me of early settlers in North America burning their boats to encourage people to stick around. We also had to haul out sheetrock, flooring, carpet and insulation that had been left there by the previous owners. It was when I started moving around the rolls of carpet that I noticed the copious amount of mouse poop on them. This always brings to mind happy thoughts of hantavirus, and made me consider stopping work to grab some surgical masks. A family friend of ours back in Oregon actually died from a hantavirus-like ailment after mice infiltrated his hunting camp, so it's definitely a specter that quickly arises.

We decided to bring one of the bigger boxes back into the crawlspace and fill it up with the feces-laden remnants. We then brought it out and set a tire on top to keep the lid closed. And then we vacumned and washed all our clothes and showered. Ick ick ick.

So we were none too happy when the abatement guys announced that due to the near foot of snow on the ground they wouldn't be coming to abate our radon. So this means we've had flooring and sheetrock and tires and boxes of crap sitting around our house for the past week. The radon abaters will be here on Friday, barring any snow, of course. Please God, don't let there be snow then.

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