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Read our latest Risk Factor Newsletter:

3/29/2021 - Odor Surveys and Assessments - 2021

If you ever had an odor or indoor air quality issue within your facility you can appreciate the difficultly in identifying the sources or causes and responding to questions from employees.

Sewage Contamination Evaluation

Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sewage Contamination Evaluation

Sewage Contamination EvaluationSewage contamination can arise from pipe leaks or breaks, drain or toilet backups, and even flood waters. Sewage is often referred to as “black water,” which is grossly unsanitary and contains pathogenic agents such as bacteria and viruses, body fluids, feces, and possibly blood and other contaminants. As such, it is critical that no one comes in contact with sewage contamination unless he or she is fully trained and protected. Do not allow personnel to walk through the affected area as this will spread the contamination and increase the exposure potential.

Secondary contaminants can arise out of black water sources, affecting building materials in the indoor environment if the sewage contamination is not identified and addressed quickly, i.e., within 24 hours. These secondary contaminants include mold and bacterial growth on damaged building materials and endotoxin generation, which arises from the bacterial contamination.

Sewage Contamination EvaluationWhen a sewage incident occurs, in order to evaluate the extent of the areas affected by sewage contamination and the secondary contaminants, an immediate response is critical – through visual observation, moisture content testing and sampling for “markers” of sewage contamination. Development of remediation plans for immediate cleanup are virtually mandatory.

Trained professionals should perform the cleanup activities using appropriate personal protective equipment, cleaners, disinfectants and sanitizers. In general terms, porous materials directly contacted by black water should be discarded. Nonporous surfaces and contents are typically cleaned and disinfected. Semiporous surfaces, such as concrete and finished wood furniture, can be cleaned although some harmless staining may remain. Valuable documents or contents can be addressed on a case-by-case basis to protect their integrity as well as those individuals who will handle them in the future.

Upon completion of the cleanup activities, we strongly recommend a post-cleaning evaluation that includes sampling for certain bacteria and other contaminants to check the effectiveness of the cleaning and disinfection processes.

1Source has the experience and the professionals to assist clients in addressing sewage contamination quickly and effectively, which reduces the potential for health concerns, property damage, business interruption and liabilities. For additional information, please contact Harry M. Neill, CIH Vice President at 610.524.5525, ext. 15, or email.