If your home or business has been flooded, you may be wondering if the water contains dangerous chemicals, bacteria, or other contaminants. Flooding often picks up pollutants from yards, streets, and other surrounding areas before entering buildings. How can you tell if flood water is contaminated? And what should you do to safely restore your property after contaminated water damage occurs?
At Disaster Recovery Qld, we specialise in Water Damage Restoration and understand the proper protocols for assessing flood water and mitigating any biohazards. Our Certified Restoration Technicians use industry standards to determine if your water damage includes unsanitary contaminants that pose health risks. We also adhere to strict restoration procedures to remove contaminants and ensure your property is safe for re-occupancy.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
– Common contaminants in flood water
– How to assess risks from contaminated water
– Key steps in the Water Damage Repair process after contamination
– Benefits of hiring a professional disaster restoration company
Potential Contaminants in Flood Water
If your home or business has suffered water damage from a flood, storm, sewer overflow, or other event, where did the water come from? Water originating from unsanitary sources has likely picked up dangerous contaminants along the way. Here are some common ground-level pollutants that can dissolve, travel, and enter buildings with water:
– Bacteria and pathogens – Flood waters often contain high levels of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fecal matter from overflowing sewers, septic systems, farms, or storm drains. Diseases like E.coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Giardia, and norovirus are just some of the illnesses people can get exposed to from contaminated flood waters.
– Chemical fertilisers – Lawn and agricultural fertilisers containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium compounds can dissolve and run off into flooding. Even at diluted levels, ingestion of these compounds can cause digestive issues.
– Weed killers and pesticides – Flood waters may pick up herbicides containing glyphosate or 2,4-D and insecticides containing organophosphates. Prolonged exposure can impact the nervous system, reproductive health, liver, and kidneys.
– Heavy metals – Lead, mercury, zinc, copper, and cadmium are toxic metals often found in mine drainage, industrial runoff, or gasoline/oil residue on roads and parking lots. Exposure can damage organs and the brain and nervous system.
– Soil and mud – Excess sediment stirred up by flooding can make water unfiltered and murky. Soil often carries chemicals, fertilisers, dangerous bacteria, and other hitchhiking contaminants.
– Petroleum products – Oils, diesel fuel, petrol, lubricants, and other hydrocarbons from garages, factories, gas stations and vehicles can enter flood water. Ingestion can cause chemical burning, breathing issues, and neurological damage.
Unsanitary water sources almost always contain risky contaminants you don’t want inside your property. The EPA considers flood water category 2 (grey water) or category 3 (black water) unsanitary, requiring disinfection and professional mitigation.
Assessing Contamination Risks
Before beginning clean up after water damage, it’s crucial to assess the contamination level. At Disaster Recovery Qld, our Water Damage Restoration experts follow IICRC S500 standards to identify unsanitary water and conduct thorough risk assessments. We determine:
– The source and journey of the water – Did it come from a nearby river overflow, backflow from the sewer, street runoff, or another origin? Identifying the source tells us what contaminants could be present.
– Visible and olfactory signs – We check the flood water colour, cloudiness, smell, oily sheen, and other indicators of pollution.
– Possible contaminants from the surrounding area – Nearby farmland, industrial facilities, waste sites, or commercial zones can contribute fertilisers, chemicals, hydrocarbons, and heavy metals that get picked up by floods.
– Health hazards to occupants – We consider who will be exposed to contaminated water and debris. Sensitive populations like children, elderly occupants, or immunocompromised individuals have higher risk.
– Testing as needed – For severe contamination, we can perform microbiological testing to identify specific bacteria, viruses, mould, and other pathogens needing remediation.
Proper risk assessment allows our Restoration Technicians to categorise water as clean, grey, or black water, and create a customised remediation plan. We determine which areas will require structural drying, cleaning, disinfecting, deodorizing, and demolition.
Professional Water Damage Repairs
After extensively assessing contamination and risks, our Restoration Technicians begin the meticulous repair process to restore safety and health to your property. Here is an overview of our flood contamination process:
1. Document and photograph all damage before work begins. This provides vital before/after proof for insurance claims.
2. Build containment barriers to prevent cross-contamination and protect unaffected areas of the property. We use plastic sheeting, air scrubbers, and dehumidifiers to control dust and fumes.
3. Safely pump out and extract all standing water. We remove water using submersible pumps and industrial vacuum extractors. Proper PPE and disinfection techniques prevent pathogen exposure.
4. Remove porous contaminated materials. Carpets, drywall, insulation, fabrics, and furnishings saturated with flood water get discarded and properly disposed of. Non-porous materials get thoroughly disinfected.
5. Clean and disinfect all surfaces. After drying surfaces, we apply antimicrobial cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants proven to kill dangerous bacteria and viruses. Special attention goes to HVAC systems.
6. Deodorise and freshen the space. We use thermal fogging and odor neutralisers to fully eliminate any lingering musty flood smells. Air scrubbers filter particulates.
7. Monitor moisture and drying. Thermal imaging scans check for hidden moisture in walls or framing. The drying process may take days or weeks depending on the extent of water infiltration.
8. Make repairs and reconstruct the property. Our technicians work with your preferred contractor to repair walls, flooring, cabinets, and any damaged structural elements. Appliances also get properly cleaned and serviced.
9. Check for recontamination risks. Before reconstruction finishes, we confirm all affected areas are fully dry and free of any lingering pollutants or microorganisms. Our goal is to have zero health risks when the job is complete.
10. Provide detailed documentation. Throughout the restoration process, we fully document the site condition, treatments performed, clearance testing results, and verification that health risks have been mitigated before the property is handed back over.
By following these rigorous procedures, we restore peace of mind and create a safe, healthy home or business environment for you to move back into.
Benefits of Hiring Professional Restoration
While some water damage jobs can be DIY, contamination takes professional mitigation. Don’t risk exposure to dangerous flood water pathogens, chemicals, and lung-damaging mould spores. When contaminated water damage occurs, leave the work to expert technicians. Here’s why:
– We have advanced assessment tools to detect risks regular homeowners lack. This includes microbiological testing, thermal imaging for hidden moisture, and technologies to pinpoint contaminant levels.
– Our technicians are trained and certified in specialised personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfection techniques homeowners aren’t qualified to perform. We know how to handle unsanitary flood water, sewage, and serious mould safely.
– We follow all EPA regulations plus evidence-based protocols from organisations like the IICRC. You avoid regulatory fines and health dangers from improper contamination handling.
– We have commercial-grade pumps, vacuum extractors, antimicrobial chemicals, dehumidifiers, air scrubbers, and drying equipment far beyond what’s available at your local home improvement store.
– Working in contaminated environments requires extensive health and safety training per WHS regulations. Our technicians are thoroughly trained and vaccinated for dangerous pathogens. We maintain worker and occupant safety from start to finish.
– Improper drying can lead to secondary moisture damage and potentially toxic mould growth if too much moisture gets trapped in porous materials. We use thermal imaging to thoroughly dry all structural cavities.
– Reconstruction requires coordinating multiple tradespeople (plumbers, carpenters, electricians, HVAC contractors, etc.) We serve as the central project manager, so you don’t have to coordinate all these components yourself.
For effective, compliant mitigation of contaminated water damage, Disaster Recovery Qld has the advanced equipment, scientific techniques, site containment procedures, and hazardous materials training to restore interior environmental quality and structural integrity. We ease the burden so you can focus on healing your home or business.
Contact Us for Professional Water Damage Restoration
Don’t let contaminated water turn into a long-term health hazard on your property. Our water damage restoration experts at Disaster Recovery Qld are here to help with rapid response 24/7. If flooding containing chemical, biological, or unsanitary contaminants invades your home or business, contact us right away for professional cleaning and restoration. We work closely with insurance adjusters to provide fair damage estimates and make the claims process smooth.
Call Disaster Recovery Qld today at 1300 309 361 or schedule service online to get immediate assistance mitigating contaminated water damage. Your health and safety are our top priorities. We handle all the contamination risks so you can breathe easier into your property once again.
Representing the Cleaning and Restoration Industry, CARSI recently posted a blog describing the importance of Professional Water Damage Restoration.
CARSI (Cleaning and Restoration Science Institute) Blog Post
Disaster Recovery Qld – Water Damage Restoration Service/Water Extraction Flood Recovery