How Sewer Water Can Affect My Health

July 29, 2014 | Sewer Backup,Water Damage

Sewer Backup in Shower

Sewer backup that backed up into the shower pan.

For most homeowners, the only time they give real consideration to sewer water is with the associated utility bill that comes at the beginning or the end of the month. After that, they do not spend a great deal of time thinking about sewer water at all – though they really should. Contaminated sewer water can represent a very real health concern that people should be aware of. The key to understanding how sewer water affects your health involves knowing a little bit more about the topic as a whole.

Simply put, sewer water is water that contains human waste. It is traditionally transported through a series of pipes both inside and around homes, businesses and other types of public places. When an individual uses the bathroom in their home, for example, all of the associated waste product is flushed into a nearby septic tank. The contents of the tank are then transported via a series of sewage lines through the nearby sewage treatment plan. In the absolute best case scenario, this process will happen quickly and efficiently and without any problems whatsoever.

Unfortunately, these types of large systems do not always operate with 100% efficiency. If a sewer line breaks at some point during the journey between a home and a sewage treatment plant, that contaminated water could get into recreational or drinking water sources that are nearby. When sewage treatment plants do not properly dispose of contaminated water, it could also find itself in nearby beaches and other sources of recreation. However, the most common way to come in contact with sewage is via your own sewer line backing up into your home.

Sewer Water Can Make You Very Sick

Sewage itself contains many of the same organisms that commonly live inside the human body including parasites, bacteria, e-coli and more. Humans can potentially come into contact with sewage in a variety of different ways, which would ultimately reintroduce these types of organisms back into their bodies under less than ideal circumstances. If exposed to sewer water, humans and animals can become devastatingly sick in a relatively short amount of time.

There are three main conditions that a person would have to worry about if they found themselves exposed to sewer water or raw sewage in general. The first is gastro-enteritis, which can induce vomiting, diarrhea and more. The second is hepatitis, which can cause a discoloration of a person’s skin due to a failure in a person’s liver. If a person has any cuts or rashes, those types of conditions could also be made worse due to an exposure to sewer water. Cuts and rashes would become infected and would likely discharge pus at various times. All three of these conditions can also cause a fever.

Act Immediately

If you believe that you have been exposed to sewer water in any way, either in liquid form via a burst or backed up pipe or in gas form, it is important to consult the help of a medical professional immediately. If left untreated, many of the negative effects of a sewer water exposure can quickly prove to be disastrous. Exposure to the types of bacteria and parasites that are normally contained in sewer water can result in conditions like reactive arthritis, potential cancer and in some situations, fatality.

In the event that a situation occurs at home like a sewer pipe backs up into your basement, it is always important to wear protective clothing (including goggles and masks) before you attempt to clean it up. Even if the water appears “clean”, it still contains the same bacteria and pathogens that are found in “black water”. The best thing to do is to call your 24/7 Restoration Professionals right away!

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