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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

5 Contaminants Found in Flood Water

9/8/2020 (Permalink)

Bacteria Lactobacillus, 3D illustration. Bacteria in rainwater in floodwater can cause serious bacteria growth in a very short period of time during a storm event

5 Contaminants Found in Flood Water

Coastal storm surges and overflowing bodies of surface water cause floods that carry contaminants and debris. By the time flooding reaches a commercial building in Palmer Lake, CO, it is likely to be contaminated. Learn about five types of contaminants that may be found in floodwater.

1. Solid Waste
The presence of solid waste is the primary distinction between Category Two gray water and Category Three black water. Solid waste introduces microorganisms that pose contagion risks to building occupants and support the growth of mold in a structure.

2. Infectious Microorganisms
Several types of bacteria found in water from a flood or sewer backup include E. coli, Legionella, Leptospira, Salmonella, Shigella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus. Contaminated water can also carry the bacterial infections typhoid and tetanus and viruses such as Hepatitis A. Vibriosis is caused by exposure to brackish or saltwater during a flood.

3. Hazardous Chemicals
Flood water travels over the ground, picking up agricultural and industrial chemicals and road residue. Flood cleanup crews should wear personal protective equipment such as waterproof steel-toed boots and hip waders to limit skin exposure.

4. Dangerous Debris
Flooding carries away and dismantles many objects that may end up on a commercial property. Building owners and managers should exercise caution when attempting to navigate through or clear out flooded areas.

5. Harmful Pests
Mosquitoes may begin to breed in the water left standing for days following a flood. These insects spread pathogens that can cause encephalitis, West Nile, yellow fever, Zika, and other diseases. Flooding may also introduce pests such as ants, stinging insects, and snakes to commercial properties.
Restoration professionals typically categorize flood water as Category Three water damage. Primary storm damage caused by highly contaminated water poses all of these risks in addition to a long-term threat of mold growth if the flood damage is not mitigated, cleaned, disinfected, and dried in a timely manner.

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