People threw stale urine on my roof, should I worry about my health?
August 31, 2014 9:14 AM   Subscribe

They threw two gallons of saved up, putrid urine on the front of my house, getting half a gallon on my roof and some under the eaves. Police were called. I cleaned the best I could. The smell was nightmarish. This was in the spring. We are now into the fall and the smell returns when it rains. I've had three sinus infections since this happened, after not having a sinus infection for years. Could this be related? Is old urine soaked into my roof dangerous to my health?
posted by myselfasme to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have nothing helpful to say about the possible health concerns but I wanted to post saying that it's horrible that someone would do something like this to you (or anyone really). I'm sorry you've had to deal with this.

I suppose one possible solution would be to call one of the companies that deal with crime scene cleanup, presumably they have ways to get rid of some seriously nasty smells.
posted by foodgeek at 9:22 AM on August 31, 2014 [11 favorites]

Whether it is or it isn't, you're never gong to be at peace while your house stinks of urine and you're always going to have it at the back of your mind that it's affecting you (I would). Consider getting the outside of the house professionally power-washed and taking the perpetrators to small claims court for the cost, especially if there was a conviction, which will make your case easier to make.

Stale urine basically becomes ammonia, so I would google side effects of ammonia exposure.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

Squirrels and mice and other creatures probably pee on your roof too, so don't worry about health concerns, sinus infections are almost certainly not related. Nature's Miracle brand has an "Advanced Formula" that should work to clean it.
posted by Sophont at 9:28 AM on August 31, 2014

Best answer: I'm so sorry this happened to you. It's just awful, and I hope the people were punished.

You definitely can use a cleaner specifically formulated for urine to help remove any traces and relieve your stress about this. Clorox makes "professional" products -- the kind of stuff nursing homes and large public bathrooms use. Here's their urine remover, and you can get a big jug that comes with a sprayer to reach under the eaves.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:42 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

The concentrations of ammonia we're talking about aren't remotely high enough to cause symptoms of ammonia exposure.
posted by Justinian at 9:46 AM on August 31, 2014 [13 favorites]

Also coming in to say that this is horrible, and I imagine that whatever circumstances surrounding that incident--and the aftermath--are probably stressful enough that it's manifested physiologically. Without knowing m/any details of your situation, I might guess that the sinus infections are unrelated to chemical or pathogenic exposure. But certainly could have been brought on by emotional distress.
posted by magdalemon at 10:13 AM on August 31, 2014 [8 favorites]

What materials are the facade, eaves, and roof made of? Could you maybe look into replacing the affected parts, if it's pretty localized? For example if you have shingles, it might not be too expensive to replace just some.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:59 AM on August 31, 2014

Urine was used for centuries for a variety of purposes, including medicinal ones and for washing (for people and clothing).

Here's an example of the use of urine by Inuit people, from interviews with elders, from this publication, p. 231 (it's p. 243 in the pdf):

If someone had broken their finger on a rock did you tie it first and then
apply a bandaid?

If it was cut, the bandaid was applied after the bleeding slowed down. We all peed into a container and the urine was used to soak the wound to stop the bleeding.
That was done if it was bleeding very heavily. Urine made the wound burn, but it would stop the bleeding if the wound was immersed in urine.

I guess it is like the disinfectants they use now on large wounds.

Urine was not only used for cuts. It was also used for washing. It is really good for removing stains.
If the clothing was rinsed properly, you couldn’t even smell the urine.
I have seen both urine and eider duck eggs being used as soap.

So, the short answer is that I'm agreeing with everyone above that while what happened to your house was horrible, and it would be worth trying to purge the smell, it is not likely the cause of your sinus infections.

The body changes in various ways as we age. When I started getting multiple sinus infections, it turned out to be an allergy (to mold) that had amped up over time.
posted by gudrun at 1:58 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

Several years ago a pack of young men who threw urine at a gay couple in West Hollywood were charged with assault with a caustic.

I would also get this DNA tested.
posted by brujita at 2:44 PM on August 31, 2014

Might your homeowners insurance pay for whatever remedy is needed to restore your home to its pre-vandalism state, from cleaning to re-construction? Your police report will come in handy here.
posted by carmicha at 4:17 PM on August 31, 2014

I used to use vinegar to neutralize dog pee on rugs. White vinegar is cheap. Or you could use an enzyme cleaner, like Nature's Miracle. At gardening stores, you can get a sprayer that attaches to a hose. You put cleaner in the container, use the sprayer, and a diluted wtare & cleaner comes out (usually used for fertilizer).

What an awful experience.
posted by theora55 at 10:20 PM on August 31, 2014

You talk about urine being "soaked into my roof". Roofs are not the sorts of things that absorb liquids. My guess is that the urine ran off the roof and soaked into the ground. The smell is probably coming from the ground, not the roof or eaves. I would focus my efforts on either digging-up the soil under the spot where the urine was thrown, or maybe dumping a bunch of new soil on top of it.

With regard to the sinus infections, I don't think that the're at all connected with the stale urine. The sorts of microorganisms that cause sinus infections are not the sorts that are present in decomposing organic matter.
posted by akk2014 at 4:09 AM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

If hiring a professional cleaning service is not feasible, try concentrated Odoban in large quantities. I managed to rid our living room carpet of a pernicious cat urine smell with the stuff, and if it works on cat urine, it will work on anything. What a horrible thing for someone to do.
posted by tully_monster at 8:34 PM on September 1, 2014

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