Undoubtedly, one of the most upsetting situations that can occur on the home front is a sewage backup or a flood. The aftermath of a sewage backup or flood can be costly – and dangerous. Due to the health risks associated with a flood or sewage back up, you must undertake comprehensive and safely executed cleanup up rapidly.

Flood Water and Sewage Can Be Highly Dangerous

Not only can flood water and sewage cause tremendous physical damage to your home, incidents which result in flood water and sewage entering your home expose you and your family to potentially serious health risks. Flood water and sewage can be contaminated with a myriad of different types of bacteria, viruses, mold, and other microorganisms. Examples of these hazardous pathogens include:

  • Pathogenic bacteria
  • Pathogenic viruses
  • Parasitic microorganisms
  • Mold spores

Flood water and sewage will also contain what are known as saprophytic bacteria. These are bacteria that breakdown waste found in both flood water and sewage. These types of bacteria don’t present a specific health risk to humans. They attack waste and then die off themselves when there is no more organic matter in flood water or sewage for them to consume.

Pathogenic Bacteria

Pathogenic bacteria are bacteria that causes disease in humans (and in some cases, in other living creatures as well). A significant number of different types of bacteria can be found in flood water and sewage. Some of the more common types of bacteria found in wastewater of these types include:

  • Salmonella
  • E. coli
  • Streptococcus
  • Pseudomonas
  • Shigella
  • Aeruginosa
  • Mycobacterium
  • Giardia lamblia

Pathogenic Viruses

In addition to pathogenic bacteria, flood water and sewage can be awash (no pun intended) in a considerable number of harmful viruses. In fact, saying that they can “be awash” is a bit misleading when contrasted with the volume of bacteria in flood water and sewage. Relatively speaking, the volume of viruses in these types of wastewater is significantly less than the level of bacteria.

Dangerous viruses that can thrive in wastewater include:

  • Hepatitis (certain types)
  • Polio
  • Coxsackie
  • Adenovirus
  • ECHO (enteric cytopathic human orphan)


As a general rule, water pipelines into a residence lack oxygen as well as organic matter sufficient to allow for mold to grow. Noting that, flood water and sewage back up add both oxygen and organic matter to the mix, a situation that creates an ideal environment for the growth of mold. Because mold spores literally are present nearly anywhere, when a home is flooded or experiences a sewage backup, the stage is set for a virtually immediate mold problem. As is the case with bacteria and viruses, mold can also cause you and your family health issues if it starts to grow in your home.


Finally, flood water and sewage can contain harmful parasites that can invade and infect a person who comes into contact with these types of wastewater. The more common types of parasites that may be found in flood water and sewage include:

  • giardiasis
  • dwarf tapeworm infection
  • threadworm infection
  • hookworm
  • strongyloidiasis

Time Is of the Essence

The harmful pathogens that can be present in flood water and sewage can infect you or a member of your family quickly. In some cases, infection can occur if someone touches an object that made even minimal contact flood water or sewage. Infection can occur when a person touches an object that had contact with wastewater and then touches his or her mouth, nose, or even a small abrasion on the body. Transmission is not complicated or challenging.

In order to ensure that you and your family remain as safe as possible following a flood or sewage backup, the cleanup process must commence immediately. There is no room for delay.

In addition to guarding against disease, there is another important matter at play when it comes to swift flood water or sewage remediation. The longer flood water and sewage remains in your premises, the more significant and extensive the physical damage that can be caused to your property by these types of wastewater.

While you certainly can take on the task of flood or sewage cleanup on your own, that generally is not recommended. First, you are not at all likely to have appropriate personal protective equipment on hand to keep you safe when engaged in flood or sewage cleaning. Second, you are not apt to have the types of cleaning and sanitization agents necessary to thoroughly cleanup up this type of wastewater and eradicate dangerous pathogens that can be contained in flood water or sewage.

A professional sewage cleanup company is in the best position to quickly, effectively, and completely remediate a flood water or sewage back up situation in your residence. A reputable flood water and sewage cleanup company can be at your residence on an emergency basis and provide you with a reliable estimate for services. A professional, because of experience and resources, is able to restore your residence to a safe, habitable condition following condition following a flooding or sewage incident.


Emily Kil

Co-Owner of Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company

Together with her husband, Emily Kil is co-owner of Eco Bear, a leading biohazard remediation company in Southern California. An experienced entrepreneur, Emily assisted in founding Eco Bear as a means of combining her business experience with her desire to provide assistance to people facing challenging circumstances. Emily regularly writes about her first-hand experiences providing services like biohazard cleanup, suicide cleanup, crime scene cleanup, unattended death cleanup, and other types of difficult remediations in homes and businesses.