What is Category 3 Water and Why Should I be Concerned? (Part Two)

What is Category 3 Water and Why Should I be Concerned? (Part Two)
Part One of this article explained what Category 3 Water is. This final installment will explain why you should be concerned and how to minimize the risks.
WHAT POTENTIAL BACTERIA AND VIRUSES ARE CARRIED BY CATEGORY 3 WATER
The most common bacteria found in sewage are:
1. E. Coli;
2. Acanthamoeba;
3. Salmonella;
4. Helicobacter pylori;
5. Leptospira;
6. Cryptosporidium;
7. Giardia;
8. Hepatitis A Virus;
9. Clostridium Tetani; and
10. Adenoviridae
WHAT SICKNESSES AND DISEASES ARE CAUSED BY THESE BACTERIA AND VIRUSES
According to the National Resources Defense Council nearly 2 million cases of illnesses are caused by sewage contamination each year.
Exposure to sewage or its products may result in a number of illnesses including:
1. Gastroenteritis, characterised by cramping stomach pains, diarrhea and vomiting caused by e.coli, salmonella, and other bacteria. Exposure to Helicobacter pylori is also linked to other stomach ailments including ulcers.
2. Weil’s disease also known as Leptospirosis which is a flu-like illness with persistent and severe headache, vomitting, and muscle aches. This disease is commonly caused by exposure to water contaminated with animal urine. Complications from this disease include damage to the liver, kidneys, and blood meaning this condition can cause death.
3. Hepatitis caused by the hepatitis A virus and is characterised by inflammation of the liver, and jaundice.
4. Acute respiratory illnesses caused by the adenoviruses, resulting in attacks of breathlessness, chest tightness, wheezing, pneumonia, croup and bronchitis.
5. Infections of skin, eyes, nose, throat and ears.
6. Tetanus, a medical condition that affects the nervous system and is characterised by a prolonged contraction of skeletal muscle fibres; caused by a clostridium tetani. This is the reason we get tetanus shots.
HOW CAN YOU MINIMIZE YOUR RISKS OF GETTING SICK?
First, it is important to understand how the micro-organisms enter the body: direct contact, ie touching your mouth with contaminated hands and/or breathing in contaminated dust and air and/or exposing your skin, particularly if you have open cuts.
For this reason, it is imperative that you wear protective clothing, rubber boots, gloves, and use eye and respiratory protection.
You do not want to expose your skin, particularly if you have wounds or cuts.
It is also critical that you do not inadvertently touch your mouth, eyes, or nose with contaminated hands or gloves.
With this understanding of the risks and the precautions you need to take, when you are in a flood situation, it is important to realize that disaster restoration companies have specialized equipment and experience to deal with clean up. Hire professionals to do the clean up as opposed to doing it yourself to save yourself from potential sickness and long term health issues.
As stated by the IICRC:
Most household microorganisms (fungi, bacteria) typically require five conditions for germination, growth, amplification and dissemination. Generally, they include:
• organic food source, especially cellulose (e.g., paper, wood), which are found in abundance in construction materials
• moisture, even high humidity (67% RH plus)
• moderate temperature – 68-86°F/20-30°C
• stagnant air
• time – several hours to several days
Anything that can be done to control or minimize these optimum conditions will prolong the time required for microbial growth.
In short, when your property is flooded, time is critical to minimizing the magnitude of the concerns caused by Category 3 Water.
Once your property is professionally cleaned, will the risks caused by Category 3 Water still be an issue?
The answer, of course, is YES!
The only way to be completely sure if your property has been remediated properly is to hire a Third Party Environmental consultant who performs a Post-Remediation Verification to determine whether or not the air quality is at normal, healthy levels.
In addition, it is also important that the consultant takes swab samples of the flooded areas that can be sent to a lab to test for levels of bacteria caused by sewage.
The only way to have true piece of mind after your home is remediated is to make sure that this Third Party Verification and Sewage Swab Sampling is done. Unless this is done, you will not have any certainty that the restoration company you hired has completely mitigated the health concerns caused by Category 3 Water.
If you have any questions about Category 3 Water or have concerns about a recently remediated property, Got Mold? recommends that you contact an IICRC accredited restoration company who understands the risks. We are IICRC accredited and here to help, so don’t hesitate to contact us!