Q Can bats in the attic affect a home's air? How does one clean up the droppings?
A Bats living in attics can affect occupants who may be allergic to them. Individuals can have allergic reactions to bats without direct contact, similar to allergies to cats or dogs.
Bat excrement can harbor the mold Histoplasma capsulatum, which can cause the disease known as histoplasmosis, similar to the flu, or in more extreme cases, tuberculosis. The fungus causing histoplasmosis grows best in conditions where there has been an accumulation of droppings for at least three years. Mold spores are actually more likely to be released from dried excrement.
Eliminate the bats from your home; prevent them from entering by locating and then blocking all possible entry points. (When blocking entry points, keep in mind that non-hibernating bats are nocturnal, so work at night while they are out).
Use protective equipment while cleaning up:
• Wear rubber gloves.
• Use an N95 high-efficiency particulate respirator, sometimes referred to as the TC-21C particulate respirator. (Regular dust masks will not provide adequate protection.)
• Wear clothing that can either be laundered or discarded after cleanup. This may include disposable boots, coveralls and a hat.
• Before disturbing the area, a light misting with a water and bleach solution will help prevent the pathogens from becoming airborne.
• Remove and throw out porous materials that have become contaminated.
• Clean the affected areas using a non-ammonia soap or detergent. Thoroughly scrub the affected areas and rinse with clean water.
• Disinfect the area with a solution of household bleach (¼ cup bleach per gallon of water).
For more information, visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at www.dnr.state.mn.us and search using the word "bats," or call 651-296-6157.
Minnesota Departments of Health and Natural Resources