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Water contamination categories in a disaster event.

Water, even if it is clean often becomes unsanitary if left for too long. If it soaks into carpets, soft furnishings or into the pores of the building structure of your home, it can cause major issues such as odour and mould growth. We wanted to share some information about the different categories of water contamination so you can become more aware of what could potentially is or can become a health hazard.

Understanding the categories of water contamination determines:

  • the best procedures to restore a home or property

  • the correct drying procedures

  • if removal of carpets & underlay are required 

  • the proper cleaning & sanitation required for the property to be safe to live in, which includes performing clearance tests.

Categories of Water Contamination

Water contamination is classified into three separate categories: clear water, grey water and black water. The category of water contamination is not described by the colour of the water present, but by the source of contamination such as the characteristics of water and the length of exposure to surfaces and contaminants that it comes into contact with.

Category 1 – Clear Water

A Category 1 is classified as a situation where water has originated from a relatively clean source. This may be caused by:

  • Broken/leaking hot water system

  • Burst internal pipe

  • Rain that has entered through an open window

Clean water if not promptly dried off has a potential to become contaminated as microorganisms will start multiplying as they come in contact with structural surfaces and mixes with other contaminants. Resulting from this, if the water is left unattended for over 48 hours, it will generate an odour and develop a potential for mould growth.

Category 2 – Grey Water

Grey water contamination is classified as a situation where water originated from a grey water source. Some examples include:

  • Discharge from a dishwasher/washing machine

  • Overflown toilet bowl that does not contain faeces

  • Overflow from a bath, shower or sink

  • Fish tank leaks

  • Waterbed leaks/bursts

Grey water generally contains microorganisms that have the potential to be pathogenic. Exposure to a grey water source may possibly cause infection or disease in humans due to the number of microorganisms. If a grey water situation is not rectified promptly the contamination levels have a potential to increase substantially and if left unattended for a period longer than 48 hours might change in its properties to a Category 3 black water situation.

Category 3 – Black Water

Category 3 water damage situations are classified as situations where water has originated from a black water source. Black water poses a very significant threat to human health as it can carry a wide variety of pathogens and allergens. The severity of the health threat depends on the degree and extent of penetration into the building environment. Most common black water contamination:

  • Sewage contamination

  • Flood waters that have entered into the house from outside

Total decontamination and sanitisation is required to ensure the home or office is safe for habitation. Successful cleaning of a property impacted by sewage contamination is only complete once a final lab test results give the all clear. This final clearance testing is performed to guarantee the safety and well being of all persons residing at the property.

If your property has been affected by any water inundation and damage, contact a water restoration expert like Juvenaire to have it resolved as soon as possible. The longer it is left unattended, the higher the health risk and the more expensive it becomes to dry, clean and decontaminate your property.

One Response

  1. hedy and chris hooper

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