How to get rid of two inches of pigeon droppings?

My father is moving to a loft in an old deserted factory. It’s a wonderful space, but right now it is a true mess. Pigeons have had free access to parts of the loft for ten years and a floor area (part rough wooden planks, part concrete) of 60 square metres is covered with a 1-2 inch thick layer of pigeon droppings, feathers and an occasional dead pigeon. Basically, my father moved to the bottom of a giant, neglected birdcage.

I’ve read that dealing with pigeon droppings can be a serious health hazard and that anyone attempting to clean it should take precautions like sanitary airtight clothing and hepa-masks (I assume “hepa” means airtight).

Does anyone have experience with cleaning up messes like these? Where did you rent the attire? Any tips on how to go about it? Do any professional companies exist who will do this, and how do I find them?

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor. There are other expansions of the acronym but all basically agree that it means that it allows air to flow while filtering out noxious particles. Do you really want a mask that’s airtight? :wink:

It looks like the major danger he faces is Psittacossis, which is caused by breathing in the dust from bird droppings. The site referenced above recommends dampening the droppings, wearing a mask (HEPA is a good idea) with gloves and coveralls, and cleaning yourself thoroughly afterwards. Because it’s just a bacteria, he should talk to his doctor to see if there’s any particular medication recommended. Likewise, he should call a veterinarian and see what they do to avoid exposure or prevent infection.

Here is another site that lists all the steps to be taken, and goes into somewhat more detail about the dangers of the waste. Hiring a contractor to do it might be very expensive, based on this list, but following these instructions – with no shortcuts! – doesn’t sound too difficult.

And finally, the US Army’s guide (from 1992) can be found after a few fluff articles on this page. Appendix C-1 goes into great detail about using formalin (yikes!) to decontaminate the droppings. You’ll need to call OSHA or the State Dept of Health (or, if in another country, the equivalent organization dealing with chemical safety) to find out if there are any regulations about using formalin inside a building. The link above gives general guidelines for its use.

If it were me, I’d do this job with a partner who understood the risks. A partner always moderates my tendency to be careless or impatient, and can help gauge when fatigue makes the job too dangerous.

Thanks Jurp. Excellent info.

Yesterday I called my father to share the info and make a plan. I even had asked two pestcontrol agencies how much they would charge for cleaning that area (around 600 dollars) It turned out he had found two aquainted boys willing to clean up the mess, and they had been at it for the whole day, already! :eek: Protection? Nope, just a cheap little dustmask for their mouths.

That put me in a bit of an ethical dilemma. My father didn’t know about the danger beforehand, and I didn’t want to scare those boys more then necessary, now that the damage was already done. So I sent my father a link to this thread, (it scared him quite a bit, too) and asked him to let everybody involved take a good hot long shower, and watch out for signs of the diseases discribed in one of your other links.

Sigh: at least they got rid of the pigeondroppings in an hygienic way.

Hopefully, no real damage is done. ::shudder::