Family searches for answers surrounding toxic house

- RICHMOND, Utah (ABC 4 News) – The Frandsen family is beyond frustrated trying to figure out what is making them sick.

“I was questioning whether or not she [Karen] had a stroke because her symptoms seemed to follow along those lines,” Monte Frandsen, Karen’s husband said.

As sick as Karen and Monte got, it was nothing compared to their 16-year-old son Josh who has Autism. Josh nearly died after doctors could not diagnose why he had tremors, dizzy spells and low white blood cell and platelet counts.

Josh said his dizzy spells progressed and got worse until he could no longer do the things he enjoyed.

This happened around the same time the family’s basement flooded in the Spring of 2011.

The Frandsen family cut a hole in their basement to pump water out. When the water was gone, gases like carbon dioxide and VOC’s, or Volatile Organic Compounds, started seeping in.

VOC’s are a gaseous release from chemicals that somehow ended up beneath the family’s home.

The family didn’t know about the gases until they called in specialists to test the house.

The Bear River Health Department took soil samples from the Frandsen household. No pesticides or Benzene, Toulene, Ethyl-Benzene, Xylene, Napthalene (BTEXN) in the samples ran by the State Department of Health Laboratory Services.

However, the inspector also brought in a gas detector and found elevated gas readings. They referred the family to contact a qualified industrial hygienist or environmental firm for further answers.

The Frandsens installed a carbon dioxide detector in the basement hole which continually detects high levels of the gas.

This is why the family believes the problem is beyond the walls of their home. They feel it extends outside and underground.

“If you get down on the ground you can still smell chemicals,” Karen said.

Karen and her family suspect the problem may come from empty pesticide jugs that used to be stored right next to her family’s home.

The Department of Agriculture sent out an inspector who found no pesticide contamination or no reason to test the soil.

“We do have a lot of empathy for the Frandsen family,” Clark Burgess with the Department of Agriculture and Food said. “We would like to do what we can to help them.”

The Frandsens want to believe help is on the way, but they feel every agency they’ve turned to has ignored them.

Since then, they’ve spend thousands installing an air filtration system in their home to pump toxic air out of the house.

It’s been more than a year without answers and without a place to call home.

“It’s an unfortunate situation to have them not be in their home and have them and their children being sick,” Burgess said. “We’d all like to find a solution to the problem.”

Even though Josh couldn’t vocalize his feelings, he desperately wants to return to his normal life.

On an iPad, Josh wrote, “I wish we can move back in someday.”

Monte said he hoped to find answers to their problem a year ago.

“I don’t know if it’s ever going to be safe and if we can come home and not have people get sick,” he said.

The Department of Agriculture plans to send inspectors back to the Frandsen household next week. The will take samples from inside and outside the home to determine if pesticides are the problem.

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