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white powder in attic


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I found white powder spread in an attic. I did some searching and read a few things that talked about baby powder or talc powder being used as a deterrent for ants.

Is is safe to conclude that this is what I found? Should I recommend that this substance be tested to see what it is?

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Originally posted by inspecthistoric

I don't know if I would describe that as spread/applied. It looks like something stored broke open or spilled. Do you have an establishing shot?

Should I recommend that this substance be tested to see what it is?
Did you taste it? Jim K would!

It was evenly dusted all over. There is no doubt in my mind that someone made the effort to spread it. The picture of the pile is perhaps where some was also spilled. I can see how that picture could mislead. There were other attic eve areas that had access doors. The powder was spread in those areas too. Clearly, the effort and intent was to spread it all around.

No, I did not taste it. I do taste fluids dripping from cars sometimes to see what they are. I havn't yet developed the habit of tasting unknown powders that I find in attics. Especially after the home owner tells me the pest control guy "sprayed" up there.

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It's hard to believe a pest control contractor would spread poison around like that in an area that might be accessed by humans, but who knows? I would report it as an unknown subtance and suggest the client have the home owner provide some rock-solid documentation from the pest guy on what he put up there. If that's not forthcoming, and you are not 100% certain it is just talc...well...I'm not sure I see any safe choice other than testing.

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Originally posted by hausdok

It might simply be some boric acid powder. When I lived at Ft. McClellen, Al the pest guys would come around every few months and dust that stuff all over everthing under/behind counters and in closets to knock back cockroaches.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

So, can boric acid be harmful to humans when used like this?

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Originally posted by hausdok

It might simply be some boric acid powder. When I lived at Ft. McClellen, Al the pest guys would come around every few months and dust that stuff all over everthing under/behind counters and in closets to knock back cockroaches.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Live and learn! I see pest guy and attic and I automatically think rats or mice and poison. I guess I can count myself lucky to have zero experience of cockroach infestation.

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Originally posted by John Dirks Jr

Originally posted by hausdok

It might simply be some boric acid powder. When I lived at Ft. McClellen, Al the pest guys would come around every few months and dust that stuff all over everthing under/behind counters and in closets to knock back cockroaches.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

So, can boric acid be harmful to humans when used like this?

I doubt that the post would have been using it so liberally where kids and families were present if it were.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Good morning, Gents!

I didn’t know that the broadcasting of boric acid was a pest control measure.

Question:

Could it cause an health hazard to the occupants?

Answer:

It would certainly present a far greater risk than either radon or indoor mould.

Having said that, it is not likely that the presence of the material (if it is boric acid) would result in a toxicologically significant exposure. Boric acid is a weak acid, and a simple field pH test would certainly confirm whether it had base or acid properties, but would not identify the material. However, if the pH was elevated, you could conclusively rule out boric acid.

Cheers!

Caoimhín P. Connell

Forensic Industrial Hygienist

www.forensic-applications.com

(The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

AMDG

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Originally posted by Caoimhín P. Connell

Good morning, Gents!

I didn’t know that the broadcasting of boric acid was a pest control measure.

Well, it's not *supposed* to be broadcast like that. However, it can be very effective when injected into cavities.

Question:

Could it cause an health hazard to the occupants?

Answer:

It would certainly present a far greater risk than either radon or indoor mould.

Ha! Very funny. So would soft drinks & pizza.

Having said that, it is not likely that the presence of the material (if it is boric acid) would result in a toxicologically significant exposure. Boric acid is a weak acid, and a simple field pH test would certainly confirm whether it had base or acid properties, but would not identify the material. However, if the pH was elevated, you could conclusively rule out boric acid.

Tastes like Pez with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I watched the Smug Channel (aka Green Channel) this AM, and learned that boric acid is routinely mixed into cellulose insulation. It must be true, because the Internet agrees with the Green Channel.

Another thing: They're using shredded blue jeans for wall insulation now. Says Steve Thomas, "You could eat it..."

WJ

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  • 3 years later...

I thought at first this insulation was cellulose but its fiberglass with a fine powder over it. I didn't taste it.

Boric acid? I wanted to think it was 50 years of dust but it's definitely a powder.

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  • 4 months later...

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