Blackwater Remediation As with all restoration/remediation, the goal is to return the property/environment to “normal” or sanitary conditions as quickly and efficiently as possible. All actions should contribute to achieving this objective. Those that do not so contribute should be reconsidered.
Determining the Scope of Decontamination Since the removal of contaminants is the primary objective, it is critical to determine how far those contaminants may have spread. If arriving shortly after discovery, moisture meters and infrared imaging can provide excellent information on how far primary contamination with liquid water has spread.
This should be done as soon as initial safety issues have been addressed and can help to determine appropriate containment. However, the possibility of tracked and/or aerosolized contaminants must also be addressed.
This is normally done by surface sampling for the presence/absence of indicator sewage organisms. Such sampling, per S500, should be done by a qualified Indoor Environmental Professional (IEP). This will normally result in a minimum 48 to 72 hours turnaround time from the taking of samples. During this time work that is known to be needed, such as removal of contaminated porous materials, can proceed. When sample results have been received, IET and the remediator can work together to develop a comprehensive scope of work, which may be significantly more extensive than originally thought.
Rough Cleaning, Initial Sanitization & Demolition Rough cleaning to remove gross contamination as well as an initial application of appropriate sanitizers is usually appropriate before starting demolition. This application of sanitizer is an engineering control intended to reduce (not eliminate!) risk for workers. As a rule, porous materials directly contacted by Category 3 water should be removed and discarded. This includes carpet, cushion, tackless strip, insulation, etc. It also includes many contents items.
Semi-porous materials, primarily wood framing, can often be cleaned and decontaminated.Non-porous materials such as vinyl flooring or ceramic tile can often be effectively cleaned and decontaminated, unless contaminated water has penetrated under or behind them, in which case they must be removed to access the contaminated surfaces for remediation.
Detailed Cleaning After rough cleaning, initial sanitizing and demolition, the next and in many ways most important step in decontamination is detailed cleaning. Cleaning is defined as the removal of contaminants from a surface. Proper detailed cleaning not only helps to reduce the fecal organism load dramatically, but it also helps remove other constituents of sewage with possible health effects, such as endotoxins and allergens.
Sanitization The final and most critical application of sanitizing agent is performed after all detailed cleaning has been completed. Effective cleaning removes most organic soils, which tend to deactivate most sanitizers. For this step, a disinfectant registered with the EPA specifically for black water decontamination should always be used and it should be applied carefully per directions, with special attention to dwell time and rinsing, if required.