When most people see or hear the word biohazard, images of people in hazmat suits, respirators, and containment zones likely pop into their head.
In television and movies, biohazard crews with these set ups are usually dealing with high-risk or life-threatening biohazards like tuberculosis and Ebola.
In our day-to-day lives, we’re not likely to need biohazard cleanup companies for things like that, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t situations where these professionals are needed.
Let’s take a look at what is classified as a biohazard and when a biohazard cleanup company should be called to remediate the issue.
WHAT IS A BIOHAZARD?
Biohazards are biological organisms or by products that are harmful to other living beings.
The types of biohazards that people encounter most frequently are a result of bacteria, viruses, toxins, bodily fluids, and medical waste.
Storm Singleton, a water and biohazard technician at Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana, says that it’s important to be able to identify biohazards, and know when to call in the professionals.
“A biohazard is anything that has blood borne pathogens or other types of pathogens that can be harmful to people,” he says. “If you’ve got a potential biohazard issue you need to call a professional, because we’ve been specifically trained and certified in the containment and removal of those hazardous substances.”
Access to the necessary personal protective equipment and the knowledge of how to effectively clean and mitigate the harmful effects of biohazards — like those available to the Difference Makers at Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana, is paramount, Singleton says. Biohazards can be incredibly infectious and spread from person-to-person. If it’s not cleaned up properly, it may appear to be gone, but the microscopic organisms could remain to continue to be harmful.
“The most important thing to know is that you need to get a professional involved early,” he says. “If you sense there’s any risk to yourself in handling it, then don’t do it. Get someone involved who knows what they’re doing.”
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the more likely biohazards you may run into in your home or office.
Mold is ever-present and is found everywhere, inside and outside.
When a leak occurs in your home or dark and dank conditions in your home promote mold growth, mold can propagate easily. Some molds are benign, but others — like sStachybotrys — are toxic to humans.
Singleton says that mitigating mold spores and damage is about more than a good scrubbing. Many people believe that bleach will simply kill mold in their home, but that’s incorrect. What it really does is bleach the mold spores so they no longer have color, but it doesn’t kill the roots of mold.
“If you do the wrong thing in a mold remediation, you can end up blowing the mold spores through an entire house and make the problem a lot worse by affecting other areas of the home,” he says. “You can get sick just by inhaling mold spores. It’s important to have someone on site that knows the right protocols, wears protective equipment, and takes things out without spreading microbes throughout the entire home.”
Stachybotrys is not to be underestimated, he says. If you’ve recently had a water leak in your home, Singleton recommends getting remediation services done immediately to prevent mold from forming before it’s a problem.
Raw sewage often becomes an issue for homeowners and business owners after flooding. Floodwater itself can be a biohazard if it’s contaminated by sewage.
“You don’t always know where the sewage is coming from and what’s in it,” Singleton says. “There can be a lot of microbes that are particularly dangerous to come in contact with in raw sewage.”
Floodwater and sewage can contain a multitude of pathogens — it can be a carrier for anything from hepatitis A to E.coli and cause plenty of debilitating issues like dysentery and typhoid fever.
Biohazard cleanup professionals should be called in anytime raw sewage backs up indoors so they can treat the area with antimicrobials and properly dispose of affected materials.
Blood itself — from humans or animals — isn’t a biohazard, it’s the microorganisms within blood that do serious harm.
Minor cuts, scrapes, and bloody noses don’t require intervention from a biohazard cleanup company. When the source of the blood is unknown or it could be potentially infected, you need to involve the pros. Blood and other bodily fluids can come from the result of traumatic events, too. During highly emotional, traumatic events, the Difference Makers at Paul Davis of Northeast Indiana can provide compassion in your time of need as well as their professional service.
“If the blood is from a stranger, or if you have any concerns whatsoever that it could be contaminated by disease or something like that, then it’s best to get a professional involved,” Singleton says. “At the very least you can get someone out to your home who can advise you on how to handle the situation.”
Major wounds or cuts that result in a large amount of blood should be cleaned up by a biohazard company. It’s best to treat even dried blood as a potential carrier for disease.
IF YOU NEED HELP
If you unexpectedly find yourself in need of biohazard cleanup, Singleton says to stay calm and try to prevent others from accidentally becoming exposed to the hazard.
“Call a professional right away,” he says. “Have them come out and take a look and advise you on what needs to happen to take care of the situation.”
Preventing exposure to potential biohazards is critical in ensuring that you, your loved ones, and your co-workers stay safe. The Difference Makers at Paul Davis are available 24/7, no matter your time of need, to offer guidance and help. For more information, call us today at 260-436-7510.