Sewage Cleanup >> Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous

This document has been jointly prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Division of Community Sanitation (DPH), and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and is intended to provide guidance to the general public relative to managing pathogen risks from direct contact with floodwaters Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and/or sewage backups.

It is important to note that during and following flooding events, dangerous and even life-threatening hazards may exist, and the public is strongly urged to contact local and state emergency management officials for instructions on the procedures Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous or actions necessary to safely avoid injury during these conditions.

This document is not intended to directly address these public safety issues (such as risks from accidental electrocution from flooded basements or downed power lines). Additional information on the public safety hazards associated with floodwaters can be found at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Red Cross Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency websites. Pathogens are disease-causing agents, which can be in the form of bacteria, viruses, mold spores, or protozoans, Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and which are normally present in large numbers in sewage wastes. The nature and extent of potential pathogen risks of sewer backups and floodwaters will depend in large part on the potential contaminants expected to be in the waters. 

In general, the greater the extent of the sewage component, the more likely the potential for adverse impacts, Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and the more important the proper cleanup of the materials that have come into direct contact with the contaminated waters. The severity of the health threat therefore depends on the source of the water and the extent of penetration into the building environment. 

The extent of penetration is dependent on the porosity of contaminated materials, the quantity of floodwater, Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and the amount of time the water remains in contact with materials. Even floodwater or stormwater which has not been directly impacted by sewage discharges is likely to contain a wide variety of microbiological organisms (e.g., from animal wastes, street runoff, etc.) and must be properly managed. 

Some of these pathogens, such as mold spores, can even establish an ecological niche Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and present a health risk from chronic exposure for some time after the event. Preventive measures, and proper cleanup procedures are essential in mitigating the risk of infection; this guidance is intended to assist the public in these actions.

Mass DEP and DPH recognize that flood conditions can occur in any watershed during severe wet weather events. The potential for, and extent of, flooding depends on many factors, Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous including: topography, flood storage capacity, the extent and location of development, infrastructure constraints, and, of course, on the severity of the storm event. 

MassDEP, through implementation of its Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement program Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and Sanitary Sewer Overflow Abatement program, continues to require infrastructure improvements to mitigate the potential for untreated wastewater to be discharged during wet weather events. 

MassDEP also has implemented a Stormwater Policy which provides for performance measures to control stormwater pollution Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and peak flow rates for projects subject to the Wetlands Protection Act, Infiltration/Inflow Control Guidelines and Illicit Connection Initiative (sewers connected to separate stormdrain systems). 

While these programs are important in managing the risks from exposure to floodwaters, some risk will always remain, especially for low-lying properties during and following extreme storm events. As such, Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous MassDEP has collaborated with DPH to develop guidance for the public who may be at risk to flood conditions. 

This Guidance includes suggested actions before and after flood events to minimize the public health risk Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and property damage. In all cases where flood conditions are expected or occur, the public should always remain in close contact with public safety officials as well.

Prevention: If a home is located in an area subject to periodic flooding (such as in a floodplain) or Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous where sewage backups have occurred, the homeowner should implement "all feasible measures" to prevent/minimize the nature and extent of impacts from such situations. Such actions can be preventive or pro-active.

Preventive actions include: 1. waterproofing the building foundation Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and/or sealing cracks in foundation floor or walls; 2. installation of a check valve or shut-off valve on the building sewer close to where it enters the structure, which will protect your home from sewage back-ups due to surcharging conditions in the municipal sewerage system (you must check with the proper sewer authority prior to taking this action!!)

3. raising or removing any sink, toilet, washing machine, etc. in the basement that may be subject to backups when the sewer system surcharges. Pro-active measures include:1. purchasing or installing a pump (e.g. sump pump) to pump out water that collects in the low point of the basement or structure;
2. ensure that building gutter downspouts and drains are directed away from the foundation Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and toward low points away from the home.

3. to the extent possible, keep furniture and valuables above flood levels where flooding has previously occurred; and 4. if minor flooding occurs, follow the water to its point-of-entry and seal cracks or defects to the extent possible. Remember, Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. 

Flood insurance is also vitally important where properties are known to be in floodplains or flood prone areas. More information on prevention and flood insurance is available on the FEMA website.Cleanup of Internal Areas Once the flood waters have receded Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and the property can be accessed safely, cleanup operations should commence.

Remember to check with local emergency management officials before returning to a property affected by flooding! The most important steps are to restore the environment to a dry state Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and salvage any valuable property. The longer that water/waste are allowed to remain in your home or on your property, the greater the potential for illness and irreparable damage to your home, its contents, and environs. 

Where they may be operated safely, use of pumps and dehumidifiers will be helpful in restoring dry conditions. In any flood cleanup project regardless of the source, Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous one should assume that pathogens are present and take appropriate precautions.

The survival of pathogens depends on a number of factors: location (indoors vs. outdoors), season, Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous type of surface contaminated, whether disinfectants are used, and also on environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature, and sunlight. Sunlight (UV radiation) reduces the survival rate of pathogens with numbers decreasing rapidly with increasing exposure to UV radiation. 

Mild temperatures and Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous higher humidity in external situations result in longer survival times. Prior to undertaking cleanup efforts, take proper precautions: Always wear protective gloves, eyewear, and boots. Rain gear is also advisable. Avoid direct contact with sewage material, and be particularly careful of your face and eyes. 

Goggles are recommended when using a hose and/or any chemicals. Protect all cuts and scrapes. Immediately wash Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous and disinfect any wound that comes in contact with sewage.The following steps should be taken to mitigate the microbial risk from a building contaminated with sewage: Any excess water should be removed from the property by pumps, wet vacs, or mopping. 

Dehumidifiers and active ventilation should also be used when available. All solid waste should be collected and disposed. All upholstered furniture and mattresses should be discarded, Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous other contaminated furniture should be removed and cleaned or discarded. The affected areas should be washed with a detergent solution to remove sewage-related contamination, then disinfected and allowed to dry.

Sort damaged contents to be repaired or discarded. Use the following guide relative to discarding of household material and Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous furnishings. Usually Discard Foam rubber, Large carpets, Books and paper products. Always Discard Food, Cosmetics, Medicines and medical supplies. Stuffed animals, Toys, Mattresses and pillows. Upholstered couches and chairs. 

Carpet padding Cardboard BE CAREFUL Assume anything touched by sewage is contaminated. Clean and disinfect everything sewage has touched. Always wear protective rubber gloves, eyewear, and boots and Raw Sewage Is Extremely Hazardous be especially careful if you have cuts or open sores. Wash, disinfect, or discard any clothing and supplies immediately after use.

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