Candid Overview of the Unique Challenges of Decomposing Body Cleanup

Biohazard remediation specialists are called upon to address a wide array of challenging cleanup situations. These include:

  • Infectious disease
  • Crime scene
  • Rodent dropping
  • Hoarding
  • Homeless encampment
  • Unattended death
  • Suicide

Nothing presents a more significant set of challenges on a number of levels than does decomposing body cleanup. The human decomposition process starts the moment an individual dies.

Biohazards and Decomposing Body Cleanup

When it comes to decomposing body cleanup, one of the most significant challenges is dealing with biohazards associated with this type of remediation endeavor. A decomposing body can harbor different pathogens. Pathogens include viruses and bacteria that can cause illness in humans, including highly serious diseases.

The AIDS virus is capable of surviving in a human remains for a period of time following a person’s death. Most infectious disease experts do believe that the AIDS virus doesn’t survive in human remains much beyond 24 to 48 hours, however.

Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses do survive in a human body after death for a period of time. The length of time in which these viruses do survive following a person’s death varies. A number of factors come into play, including the environment in which a decomposing body is located.

The Ebola virus is particularly virulent after a person’s death. If an individual was infected with the Ebola virus during life, that virus can survive for what can amount to a truly extended period of time in a decomposing body. Indeed, in some country’s around the world, evidence suggests that a significant percentage of people contract Ebola by having some sort of contact with an infected deceased body. A notable number of people have been found to contract Ebola at funerals for individuals infected with that virus. You do need to keep in mind that as of this time, the presence of the Ebola virus in the United States is minimal. With that said, medical experts are predicting that Ebola will become more widespread in the United States in the not too distant future.

There are other dangerous pathogens that harbor in a decomposing body. As a consequence of these various health hazards demand that any person having contact with a decomposing body must use personal protective equipment designed to protect against biohazards. This type of equipment must be worn during decomposing body cleanup and includes:

  • HEPA mask or respirator
  • Uniform or smock
  • Protective eyewear
  • Gloves
  • Protective footwear

Emotional Challenges of Decomposing Body Cleanup

In providing a candid overview of the challenges associated with decomposing body cleanup, attention must be paid to the emotional aspects of undertaking this type of remediation endeavor. The stark reality is that a decomposing human body is a shocking, even gruesome situation. From horrific optics to an unimaginable stench, a fair statement is that it’s hard to imagine anything more troubling that encountering let alone cleaning up a decomposing body.

Even professionals involved in decomposing body cleanup note that this type of work is challenging. The emotional impact of decomposing body cleanup on laypeople simply cannot be understated. If family members take on decomposing body cleanup on their own, they face the prospect of having severe and persistent emotional issues that include:

  • Traumatic grief
  • PTSD
  • Severe depression
  • Anxiety
  • Of a combination of these conditions

Mental health professionals strongly recommend that laypeople never take on decomposing body cleanup on their own. This is one type of biohazard remediation that definitely should be left to professionals.

Damage to Physical Property Arising From a Decomposing Body

Comprehensive decomposing body cleanup is also likely to involve addressing physical damage caused to property. For example, the fluids that is expelled from a decomposing corpse can permanently damage the premises at the scene. These fluids can permanently damage flooring and any other elements of a structure..

The foul odors that emit from decomposing body can also damage physical property. Although decomposing body cleanup professionals can address these odors with powerful, specialized deodorization agents and equipment, this can be a challenging process.

Dealing With Law Enforcement and the Coroner in the Case of a Decomposing Body

In many cases, the need for decomposing body cleanup arises from what is classified as an unattended death. An unattended death is one in which a person dies alone and his or her remains aren’t discovered for what can be an extended period of time.

Law enforcement and the local county coroner’s office will be involved in the aftermath of the discovery of an unattended death. The involvement of law enforcement and coroner present another challenge associated with decomposing body cleanup. Decomposing body cleanup cannot commence until law enforcement and the coroner release complete their investigations at the scene and release the property to the owner.

The coroner is responsible for transporting the body from the scene. In California, an autopsy and other forensic investigation follows the discovery of an unattended death and associated decomposing body.