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Hidden Dangers: Surprising Sources of Flood Contamination Risks

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Flood contamination risks may result from both obvious and less-obvious sources. Most people know that surface flood water entering your home should be considered toxic and direct contact avoided. Clean-up is best left to water damage recovery specialists with the equipment and expertise to ensure competent, thorough disinfection of your home. In addition to this primary contamination source, however, flood contamination risks also arise from other sources.

flood contamination risksMunicipal Water

Most people think tap water is safe after a flood event. Maybe so, maybe not. Flooding may affect municipal water supplies in two ways. If the local water is drawn from surface sources such as lakes and rivers, the unusually large amount of sediment stirred up by the storm or other flood event may interfere with proper disinfection at the water utility. Tap water may appear cloudy and its quality may be suspect. Where municipal water is drawn from wells, if the location of the well head is swamped by flooding, the well may be inundated with pollution and biohazards present in surface flood water, making the source unsafe. After flooding, listen to radio and TV news broadcasts for information on the status of municipal water.

Sewage Reflux

If the municipal sewer system becomes inundated with flood water, normal sewage flow may reverse and raw sewage may back up into your home through the drain system, bringing extremely dangerous biohazards. Sewage reflux first appears at the lowest drains in the house—basement floor drains are a frequent entry point. Sewage backup into a home may be extreme if the municipal system is severely swamped, making the house unsafe for occupation until professional decontamination is performed.

Toxic Products Overflow

Common household products like paint, solvents, pesticides and other common substances may contribute to flood contamination risks if they are swamped by flood water and spillage inside the house results. In locales at greater risk of flooding, toxic or caustic chemicals should be stored outside the house, in a garage or separate storage shed.

For more advice on identifying flood contamination risks, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.