Dangers of Raw Sewage Exposure -Is Raw Sewage a Biohazard?

Raw sewage can be a serious health risk. Wondering what kind of Diseases Can Raw Sewage cause and just how bad is it if you get exposed to Raw Sewage?

In this guide you will learn:

  • What Type of Hazard is Raw Sewage
  • Dangers or Raw Sewage,what It can do to your health & Your home
  • Diseases Caused by Raw Sewage
  • Raw Sewage Exposure Symptoms & Should you be cleaning up raw sewage yourself.

We will also cover what steps to take to clean up raw sewage spills and how to handle them properly.

What is Raw Sewage – Is it a Biohazard?

Raw sewage is water or sludge that contains excrement, industrial release and debris such as toilet paper and plastic.

Raw Sewage is a toxic biohazard. Raw Sewage contains harmful bacteria such as faecal coliform and E. Coli.

Raw Sewage often contains toxic substances, including chemicals and poisons, that should have gone into the municipal sewer systems to be processed and treated.

Breathing in these odors or having physical contact with sewage can be very harmful to your health.

Dangers Of Raw Sewage

Sewage and wastewater can contain bacteria, fungus and viruses that can cause many illnesses.

One of the most serious viral risks of sewage is Hepatitis and with bacterial it would be tetanus.

Coming in contact with raw sewage can be extremely harmful if you are not being careful.

The main way of contracting an infection is through hand-to-mouth contact or through splashes, so always wear protective gear when necessary.

Raw sewage can be a serious health hazard, even in small doses. With a sewage spill there will be bacteria and viruses and parasites within the sewage that are extremely harmful.

Not cleaning up a sewage spill immediately can cause serious illness and spreading of diseases to anyone being exposed.

You want to take caution when cleaning up a spill by wearing the proper protective gear such as rubber gloves, boots and eye protection. Doing this will ensure safety for you and others.

In home

If there is a raw sewage backup, physical, air-borne contaminants will be released.

If you were to inhale these you could be exposed to a variety of symptoms such as vomiting, fever, and severe forms of gastroenteritis which is an infection/inflammation of the digestive system.

Even death is a possibility if the backup is not treated and you continue to inhale the toxic vapors over time.

In yard

Should there be an open large raw sewage leak in your yard don’t approach the area.

Instead, call the health department or a Water/Sewage Damage restoration/clean company who will let you know the proper steps to take in handling the leakage.

They can refer you to a qualifying cleanup crew who can handle sewage spill in your yard.

During this time, you’ll want to keep any family members or pets away from the contaminated area. Perhaps rope off the area and begin conserving water.

Also, you’ll want to contact your insurance agent to notify them of the damage.

Under your house

Should there be a raw sewage leak under your home this is usually caused by a broken sewer line in the crawl space.

These are the most common causes of sewer trouble under a home. Especially if the pipes in the home are older or cracked.

You’ll want to clean the sewage leak as soon as possible in your crawl space – if there’s a lot of water, you’ll want to use a pump.

Once the water is cleaned up then shovel any dirt or excess debris in bags and dispose of them immediately.

In the basement

One of the main reasons for a leak in the basement is that there is a problem with the main sewage line.

When this happens, the sewage backs up into the basement because it’s the lowest point of the house and the sewer drains are the easiest escape for the water/ sewage.

There’s also the possibility that a drain is clogged up. This is likely possible if only one drain is backed up.

One way to fix a backup within the basement is by pouring Drano down the clogged drain.

Another option would be using a drain snake or even a plunger might do the trick.

If none of these methods works then you should call a professional immediately who can remedy the situation.

After the sewage leakage in the basement has been stopped, you’ll want to deep clean the infected area to make your home livable again.

Clean it thoroughly to remove any toxins and be aware of any areas that are prone to electrocution because of the water.

Make sure you shut off the gas and electricity before entering the basement as well.

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How Does Raw Sewage Affect Human Health?

Raw sewage and wastewater contain fungi, bacteria and other viruses that can cause intestinal, lung and other infections.

Even life-threatening human pathogens like typhoid, cholera and dysentery can be contracted from raw sewage exposure.

One of the more threatening infections one can receive from sewage is Hepatitis A which there is no known cure for, but can eventually get better on its own in some cases.

You want to stay away from raw sewage if at all possible due to many toxic odors and viruses contained in it that can cause serious health problems.

Whether you inhale the odors or happen to be in contact with raw sewage physically, there’s a risk of catching an infection of some sort.

Diseases Caused by Raw Sewage

1 in 10 people will catch an infectious disease through raw sewage. With industrial sewage there are even pathogens carried from animals such as livestock.

These pathogens can cause ear, eye and chest infections and sore throats just to name a few.

These diseases can range from mild to ones that can cause death. 

Diseases Caused by Raw Sewage include:

  • E. coli – contaminated water, causing diarrhea
  • Cholera – contaminated water, this can be a fatal illness, causes nose bleeds, diarrhea and cramps to name a few
  • Dysentery – contaminated water, can cause stomach pains and in some cases vomiting of blood
  • Botulism – contaminated water entering a wound, can cause blurred vision, weak muscles and or vomiting

These are only a few diseases spread through raw sewage.

Always be cautious when in an area of sewage or better yet just keep away to avoid any possible health risks.

Can Smelling Raw Sewage Make you Sick?

Raw sewage contains hydrogen sulfide and if inhaled at low levels may irritation to the eyes or dizziness, nausea or headaches.

These symptoms usually go away after a few weeks after exposure. However, if inhaled at higher levels, breathing in raw sewage could possibly lead to death.

Be aware of your surroundings at home or in the workplace if you notice any odors that are of sewage so to keep a safe distance.

If you happen to detect odors of raw sewage either keep your distance from the infected area or try to clean up the area as soon as possible before any further damage takes place.

Raw Sewage Exposure Symptoms

There are several symptoms to being exposed to raw sewage.

They can range from headaches to fatigue to nausea to vomiting which will depend on the level of exposure you receive. 

Should you be exposed to raw sewage over a long period of time though the symptoms can be more severe. Even leading to death.

If your exposure to Raw Sewage is minimal then your symptoms ,if any, should be minimal in most cases and should pass within days.

What to do if you Have been Exposed to Raw Sewage

Should you be around raw sewage, you want to make sure that any open wounds, sores or cuts are covered with dry bandages.

Flush eyes out with clean water if your eyes make contact with sewage as well.

Wash hands immediately with disinfectant after touching raw sewage.

Before washing though make sure not to touch your face, eyes, nose or open sore or cuts. This will only spread bacteria.

Also, clean any necessary clothing and just see to it that you have no traces of sewage on you.

If you’re unable to salvage the clothing then it’s probably best to throw them away so as not to contaminate anything you may come in contact with.

Should you Clean up Raw Sewage Yourself?

This all depends on the severity of the situation.

If the Sewage spill is very minor you can handle the raw clean-up yourself to prevent any more damage to your property and salvage your belongings.

Keep in mind though that cleaning up a raw sewage spill is a time consuming and dangerous job.

Should you decide to handle the clean-up yourself be sure to keep people and animals away from the contaminated area until it’s safe again.

So, unless the spill itself is rather small, it’s best to call someone who is trained in cleaning a sewage spill properly.

A trained professional will have more experience in handling such situations.

How long Does Sewage Contamination Last?

This varies depending on what’s in the sewage, how big the spill or fast it gets cleaned up.

For a small spill, bacteria like E. coli can last up to 100 days in water and 25-60 days in soil.

Again, there are a lot of variables from room temperature and the surface and the size of the spill.

The faster you clean the spill the less the bacteria will last. A bigger spill though, the contamination can last longer since there is more to clean up.

Also, be sure once the area is finally clean to disinfect everything with detergent/bleach which will help clear up the contamination faster.

When to Call a Professional

Time is of the essence when dealing with raw sewage. A big reason to hire a professional when it comes to a sewage leak is eliminating biohazards.

They are trained to deal with such situations and they have the proper equipment and know the protocols to clean up a spill and prevent the spread of any diseases.

Not only that, but a professional company who deals in sewage spills can assess the situation best as opposed to your average homeowner.

Another benefit to calling a professional is that they can help reduce costs related to the spill and the damage it has caused. A sewage backup is not something to take lightly

Also, as mentioned before, when dealing with a sewage backup be sure to contact your insurance company.

Take plenty of pictures of any damage caused by raw sewage and any structural issues before doing the clean-up. You will need these photos when processing an insurance claim.


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