Sewage Backup Hazards, Testing, Inspection and Clean-Up.
For Residential and Commercial Buildings.
Here is some information you should know about sewage backups. If you have had a sewage backup or burst house drain pipe in your building, you should be informed of the following:
Bacterial Contamination Testing and Cleaning Up Sewage Backups in Buildings.
Having your building checked for indoor air quality or other contaminants which may affect occupant health should not omit inspecting and taking site history for evidence of sewage or septic system backups into the structure or basement or crawl space areas below the structure. Black water (sewage) or gray water can cause a wide range of bacteriological, fungal, viral, and parasitic hazards in buildings.
If the occurrence happened only once or if you have had multiple sewage leaks in your building, the concern would arise if prompt and competent cleaning were not performed. If numerous sewage contaminations have occurred, more extensive building cleaning and treatment are likely to be required. This is important to prevent the risk of contamination of bacterial contamination to other areas of the building, especially where human habitation exists. For example movement of people from contaminated areas to other building areas by tracking contaminated dust and soil, and air movement of aerosolized/contaminated dust particles through a building by natural convection, HVAC equipment or other sources of air and dust movement.
Sewage or Septic Contamination Testing
There are many pathogens in sewage that are harmful to building occupants. Testing for this problem usually focuses on indicator organisms including Escherichia coliform (E. coli), and Enterococcus, total coliform and fecal coliform as these species are expected in human sewage waste. They are potentially harmful themselves as well as serving as an indicator of sewage contamination.
Test sampling in buildings involves using sterile swabs on surfaces in the contaminated areas and in a control area where low or no contamination is expected. Bulk samples of debris or building materials may also be collected, such as drywall suspected of having been wet with a sewage backup. Only a qualified laboratory will be able to properly evaluate submitted samples.