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Toxic Sewage Contamination and Your Health

July 12, 2018

Toxic sewage contamination is the most hazardous contamination issue we deal with. You have no idea of the harmful toxins in sewage. The contamination pool might contain blood borne pathogens, flesh eating bacterias, Hepatits C, and other disease causing toxins.

Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) happen every day across the nation. When they occur they can spread raw sewage into basements and out of manholes and cause extensive damage and the risk of disease in both indoor and outdoor environments. Sanitary sewer overflows can be caused by many factors. They are typically associated with sewer pipe blockages that may have been caused by pipe breaks or cracks due to tree roots, system deterioration, insufficient system capacity and construction mishaps. For those unfortunate enough to have this occur in their home or place of business there are environmental and health and safety concerns that need to be addressed.

Toxic Sewage Contamination

Toxic sewage contamination can host an array of chemical and microbial contaminants and pathogens. These contaminants soak into porous building materials and can be an immediate potential threat to building occupants. Listed below are contaminants often associated with a sanitary sewer overflow: • Mold can be present in the sewage as well as allow already present mold spores to begin growing in the flooded environment in as short as 24 to 48 hours. Molds can cause allergies, trigger asthma, can release mycotoxins and cause infections.


A host of bacteria is naturally present in toxic sewage contamination. Bacteria such as E. coli and others can have a devastating effect on people who come in contact with the microorganisms. Some of these bacteria may also contain dangerous endotoxins.  Viruses are also found in sewage. These infectious agents are a threat to anyone who comes in contact with the damaged materials or may breathe contaminated air. • Parasites are commonly found in sewage. Active parasites, or their eggs, can potentially infect people. Protozoa may also be present. This diverse group of organisms includes many that cause human disease. • Any chemicals, such as household cleaning agents or industrial chemicals, could be present in the sewage.

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Only hire licensed professionals trained with dealing with sewage contamination in accordance with IICRC S500. Generally anything directly impacted with sewage should be discarded under full containment. Maximal protective equipment is necessary. Ingress and Egress considerations should be made in advance due to cross contamination. If you walk through the sewage area then go up the stairs into a living area you’ve now contaminated the stairs and the living area.

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