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Can Sewer Backup Affect Your Breathing?

Can Sewer Backup Affect Your Breathing?

A sewer backup problem in your home or workspace can cause extensive damage to your property, but can it also affect your breathing? 

Sewage water contains toxic pathogens that spread quickly to anything the contaminated water touches. Anything in your home or property that comes into contact with sewage waste needs to be removed promptly. Contaminated materials often include carpet, drywall, and baseboards.

But what’s left behind after these materials are removed is more than just a foul smell. The toxins also make their way into the air, and they won’t simply go away. Living in an area with these fumes can have serious health consequences, including a negative impact on your breathing. 

Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning up sewage in your home or property, including answers to questions like what is sewage backup, and what is the most effective method of removing sewage waste.

What Is Sewage Backup?

Sewage backups happen when sewage or other wastewater come up in a drain, sink, or toilet. It’s typically the result of a blockage in the sewer pipe that prevents the wastewater from flowing freely away from your property. Wastewater contains extremely harmful germs, viruses, and bacteria, so it’s essential to stop the backup and clean up the wastewater immediately.

Occasionally, a basement sewage backup may also be caused by severe rainstorms, spring runoff, or flooding. The influx of ground water can inundate storm drains and make it difficult for sewage to drain properly. You should take action right away if you notice any foul odors or dirty water present in your drains, toilets, or sinks during times of heavy rains or floods.

Can a Sewer Backup Make Me Sick?

The harmful germs, bacterias, and viruses present in sewage water can make a home or office unsafe to occupy. The amount of contamination will depend on the type and amount of wastewater that makes its way into your property, as well as how long you and the materials in your space were exposed to the wastewater.

The safest course of action when you find wastewater in your home or office is to get everyone outside of the building and call a professional restoration team right away. Continuing to occupy a space that has been contaminated with sewage water could present the following hazards to your health:

  • Gastrointestinal Illness – GI distress, including ausea, diahrrhea, and vomiting, are the most common health hazards that those exposed to sewage water experience. Other symptoms of GI illness associated with sewer backup include fever, headache, and abdominal cramping.
  • Hepatitis A – Hepatitis A is a virus that is commonly found in wastewater. Exposure to this virus can lead to individuals contracting the illness. Those who get sick with this illness often experience long lasting symptoms, including fatigue, jaundice, stomach pain, loss of appetite, and more. 
  • Skin Infections and Rashes – Exposure to sewage water can cause skin infections and rashes, as well as increase the likelihood of allergic reactions. A recent study examined children who were accidentally exposed to sewage water mixed with their drinking water, and found that the affected children had more frequent allergic reactions than children not exposed to contaminated water. 

Respiratory Illnesses Caused by Sewer Backup

We’ve answered the questions of what is sewage backup, and now let’s take a look at how basement sewage backup can impact your breathing and respiratory health. 

Respiratory infections are somewhat uncommon from sewer backups, as long as things remain wet. Harmful microorganisms from fecal mater typically remain in the wastewater, and they die off quickly once things dry out. The real risk of exposure comes when sewer gasses are released from a backup.

Sewer gas is a mixture of gasses (both toxic and nontoxic) that escape as sewer waste decomposes. These gases stay trapped as long as things remain very wet. The problem occurs in a sewer backup when the water drains but the solid waste remains backed up in the pipes. This can release toxic gases into your home or property and lead to serious respiratory illnesses. 

Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, cough, headache, nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, find fresh air right away and contact a doctor is symptoms worsen.

Identifying and Fixing a Sewage Backup

You can usually identify a basement sewage backup from the odor. If gases are present from a floor drain, try pouring a bucket of water down the drain to stop the gases from being released into your space.

Do not flush the toilets if you expect you have a sewer backup. This can cause them to overflow and introduce wastewater to your property. Keep children and pets away from sewage and infected areas, and act quickly. Always wear protective gloves, mask, and goggles before handling any infected materials.

The next step is to call a professional restoration specialist to remove the blockage. They will work with your home insurance company to get things back on track as quickly as possible.

Restoremasters Is Here To Help

A sewer backup in your home or business can be catastrophic, and dealing with it promptly is key to maintaining a healthy environment. That’s why Restoremasters is here to help. Our team uses specialized negative air machines to filter the contaminated air and ensure you aren’t breathing in hazardous fumes.

Our restoration team is equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to restore your home or business to its original state, free from toxic residue. Our goal at Restoremasters is to promptly repair damage to your property caused by wind, fire, mold, water, sewage, graffiti, or smoke. 

We have more than 100 years of combined experience in the industry and the right tools for the job, so we can quickly get you back to everyday life after your home has suffered damage. 

We are located in Sandy, Utah, and provide services to the greater Salt Lake and Utah County areas, from Salt Lake City to Spanish Fork and everywhere in between. Contact us today via the form on our website or give us a call at 801.938.8654 to get started!


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