Sewage (black water) poses a VERY significant threat to human health!
Water Damage: Category III Black Water Damage
Historically speaking, August and September are the most active months for hurricanes in the Atlantic/Gulf Regions. In addition, there are often severe storms throughout the rest of the nation during these months. All of these events have the potential of releasing record amounts of rain in some areas and causing serious flooding across wide regions. According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) standard for professional water damage restoration (ANSI/IICRC S500-2006), Category III water damage (often called black water) is water damage to a structure where the origin is unsanitary or potentially infectious to humans. The black water classification also includes less contaminated water not treated in a timely manner. The classification depends on the origin of the water damage and the time of exposure- regardless of the actual color or appearance of the water. Some examples of Category III black water include: all sewage backflows and all rising water from rivers, streams, and seawater that enter a structure. Hurricanes and storms are usually the causes of this type of damage. When dealing with Category III water damage, a professional restoration business should consider several basic factors. First, the safety of the building occupants and all workers is the primary consideration. Second, the business should conduct a thorough inspection to determine the severity of the damage since that will affect the restoration process. Third, there should be the rapid removal of excess water, the removal of all contaminated porous items, and the proper disposal of the sewage and other wastes. Finally, the professional will need to establish a Balanced Drying System to restore the environment to its pre-loss, normally dry state.
Safety in all instances must be the very first consideration when exposure to Category III contaminates is a possibility. Category III water intrusion could contain many harmful viruses including Hepatitis A, Rota-virus, Adenoviruses, and Enteroviruses. Several parasites and many kinds of harmful bacteria could also be present. And, of course, numerous fungi in the form of mold spores are also present and can become a serious problem if timely decontamination does not occur and if professional drying does not begin within twenty-four to forty-eight hours.
Category III water intrusion can be subdivided into three levels that will help the professional restoration business process the contamination efficiently.
– Category III Level 1 contamination is usually a very limited waste problem. It always originates inside the building or house, affects a small area, does not affect porous material, does not penetrate the structure, and has had limited time of exposure. A small toilet overflow is one example.
– Category III Level 2 contamination also originates inside the building. However, the area of direct contamination is larger. Porous materials, as well as non-porous materials, are affected. Restoration must be more thorough to include removing moisture barriers like vinyl and plastics that will contain the contamination. Cabinets and other structural enclosures must be inspected and possibly removed if the contamination is present – especially if it is inside the walls behind these items. All contaminated porous items such as drywall, carpet, pad, upholstery, drapery, or particleboard furniture must be removed and properly disposed of.
– Category III Level 3 contamination includes water and waste coming from an outside source such as
a septic system, main sewage line, rivers, streams, and ocean waters. Level 3 indicates more contamination
for a longer period and presents a much greater health risk. All black water losses present serious risk of illness.
Therefore, contractors should ensure that all employees wear appropriate personal protective equipment. For
Level 1 losses, eye protection, gloves, and boots (or shoe covers) may be sufficient. For Level 2 and Level
3 the protection would be more extensive, which could include waterproof coveralls and respirators.
Tru-Colors Restoration members will know when to use an air scrubber to clean the air, or a negative air machine with containment to prevent contamination from spreading to unaffected areas. They will also make certain that all remaining surfaces are cleaned and sanitized with appropriate cleaners and EPA-approved disinfectants. Following a Category III black water loss, Tru-Colors Restoration understands and uses proper procedures, techniques, products, and equipment (such as professional dehumidifiers and high capacity air movers) to establish a Balanced Drying System to help restore property to its pre-loss condition safely and as rapidly as possible.
Most importantly, to prevent contamination of unaffected areas in your home, do not walk through the affected water and then walk throughout the rest of your home.