The Truth About Sewage

A sewer.

Sewage is one of the most dangerous substances that can enter buildings. Unfortunately, people don't understand the hazards that sewage creates, particularly for small children, the elderly and those with an immune system or respiratory problem. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) offers these facts to dispel some typical myths.

Myth #1: Some Sewage is Clean

Sewage from oceans, lakes, or rivers is not clean. This water contains contaminants such as microorganisms, bacteria, and pesticides. Trapped inside walls or under floor coverings, it doesn't take long to become a "smelly" health hazard.

Myth #2: Chlorine Decontaminates

Chlorine bleach does not decontaminate sewage. While bleach is a remedy, it's quickly inactivated by sewage. Even dead fungi and bacteria may contain chemicals that cause an allergic response. Affected areas should be cleaned thoroughly, followed by appropriate disinfectant application.

Myth #3: Carpets Are Saveable

Sewage-saturated carpets can be "saved," right? Absolutely not! Porous materials, such as carpet, pad, upholstery, bedding, wicker, paper goods, or fabrics that can't be washed in hot water must be disposed of safely.

Myth #4: Safety

Partially sewage-flooded buildings are not safe. Not unless contaminated areas can be sealed off to prevent cross-contamination of other areas. Only trained professionals using specialized equipment are qualified to restore sewage damage.

Complete cleaning and decontamination by a professional following the IICRC S-500 Standard for Professional Water Damage Restoration is important.