- Category III Black Water Damage Mitigation
speaking, August and September are the most active
months for hurricanes in the Atlantic/Gulf Regions.
In addition, there are often severe storms throughout
the rest of the nation during these months. All
of these events have the potential of releasing
record amounts of rain in some areas and causing
serious flooding across wide regions.
According to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning
and Restoration Certification (IICRC) standard
for professional water damage restoration (ANSI/IICRC
S500-2006), Category III water damage (often called
black water) is water damage to a structure where
the origin is unsanitary or potentially infectious
to humans. The black water classification also
includes less contaminated water not treated in
a timely manner. The classification depends on
the origin of the water damage and the time of
exposure - regardless of the actual color or appearance
of the water. Some examples of Category III black
water include: all sewage backflows and all rising
water from rivers, streams, and seawater that
enter a structure. Hurricanes and storms are usually
the causes of this type of damage.
dealing with Category III water damage, a professional
restoration business should consider several basic
factors. First, the safety of the building occupants
and all workers is the primary consideration.
Second, the business should conduct a thorough
inspection to determine the severity of the damage
since that will affect the restoration process.
Third, there should be the rapid removal of excess
water, the removal of all contaminated porous
items, and the proper disposal of the sewage and
other wastes. Finally, the professional will need
to establish a Balanced Drying System to restore
the environment to its pre-loss, normally dry
in all instances must be the very first consideration
when exposure to Category III contaminates is
a possibility. Category III water intrusion could
contain many harmful viruses including Hepatitis
A, Rotavirus, Adenoviruses, and Enteroviruses.
Several parasites and many kinds of harmful bacteria
could also be present. And, of course, numerous
fungi in the form of mold spores are also present
and can become a serious problem if timely decontamination
does not occur and if professional drying does
not begin within twenty-four to forty-eight hours.
III water intrusion can be subdivided into three
levels that will help the professional restoration
business process the contamination efficiently.
Category III Level 1 contamination is usually
a very limited waste problem. It always originates
inside the building or house, affects a small
area, does not affect porous material, does not
penetrate the structure, and has had limited time
of exposure. A small toilet overflow is one example.
Category III Level 2 contamination also originates
inside the building. However, the area of direct
contamination is larger. Porous materials as well
as non-porous materials are affected. Restoration
must be more thorough to include removing moisture
barriers like vinyl and plastics that will contain
the contamination. Cabinets and other structural
enclosures must be inspected and possibly removed
if the contamination is present - especially if
it is inside the walls behind these items. All
contaminated porous items such as drywall, carpet,
pad, upholstery, drapery, or particleboard furniture
must be removed and properly disposed of.
- Category III Level 3 contamination includes
water and waste coming from an outside source
such as a septic system, main sewage line, rivers,
streams, and ocean waters. Level 3 indicates more
contamination for a longer period and presents
a much greater health risk.
black water losses present serious risk of illness.
Therefore, contractors should ensure that all
employees wear appropriate personal protective
equipment. For Level 1 losses, eye protection,
gloves, and boots (or shoe covers) may be sufficient.
For Level 2 and Level 3 the protection would be
more extensive, which could include waterproof
coveralls and respirators.
professional restoration business will know when
to use an air scrubber to clean the air, or a
negative air machine with containment to prevent
contamination from spreading to unaffected areas.
They will also make certain that all remaining
surfaces are cleaned and sanitized with appropriate
cleaners and EPA-approved disinfectants.
a Category III black water loss, a professional
restoration business will understand and use proper
procedures, techniques, products, and equipment
(such as professional dehumidifiers and high capacity
air movers) to establish a Balanced Drying System
to help restore property to its pre-loss condition
safely and as rapidly as possible.