A biohazard is an organic substance that threatens the health of humans and other living things; but what examples of a biohazard might you encounter?
Usually, we think of biohazards in terms of crime scenes and industrial accidents. But they can occur anywhere, including your home. It’s important to use care when cleaning up substances containing bacteria, viruses, and organic toxins. For extreme cases, it’s advisable to hire professional biohazard cleanup specialists to do the job.
Here are some examples of a biohazard that can occur in many places, including your home, and what you should do about them.
1. Human Blood
It’s best to avoid contact with another person’s blood as much as possible since you don’t know what it might contain. Blood can contain infectious agents even if the person doesn’t feel sick.
Before you start cleaning, it’s essential to use rubber gloves and eye protection. Soak up as much blood as possible and plan on responsibly disposing of whatever you use. Next, apply disinfectant and let it sit for at least 10 minutes. Finally, scrub with a damp towel to remove the residue.
2. Human Body Fluids
This includes saliva, mucus, amniotic fluid, semen, vaginal secretions, and many others. These fluids can contain many of the same contaminants found in blood. In general, follow the same steps you would for cleaning up blood.
3. Human and Animal Waste
This includes feces and urine. This will always contain many bacteria that are harmful to human health. For cleanup, start by removing solid waste. Then try to soak up as much liquid as possible. Disinfect thoroughly, and then scrub until the area is clean.
4. Contaminated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The point of latex gloves and respiration masks is to catch bacteria and other contaminants you may touch or breathe in. So get used to either disposing of them (washing and sanitizing if they’re reusable) after significant use.
For an N95 mask, this might be a week if you manage to stay clear of people with known infections such as Covid-19. If you were around ill people, replacing them every day may be better.
5. Used Medical and Personal Hygiene Supplies
The list is long. It could include used syringes, scalpels, bandages, exam gloves, IV tubing, CPAP tubing, and even the bulb syringes you might use to clean a baby’s nose.
Many of these items are designed for one-time use, so they should be disposed of in a proper biohazard container as soon as they are finished being used. This is especially true if they’re sharp objects.
For reusable items, it’s essential to clean them regularly, for most, between each use. Follow product labels for cleaning instructions to ensure you’re thoroughly cleaning every part of your tools and equipment.
6. Raw or Spoiled Food and Food Waste
We’ve all heard of the dangers of cross-contamination. Even fresh animal products like meat and eggs contain bacteria like salmonella and E. coli.
To avoid foodborne illnesses and food poisoning while preparing food, follow these guidelines:
- Thoroughly wash your hands and tools before preparing food.
- Use gloves and avoid touching your face or other body parts while your hands are dirty.
- Keep raw meats and eggs separate from ready-to-eat foods. If you’re preparing animal products, wash up again immediately afterward and before touching other food or personal items.
- Wash and disinfect dishes, cutting boards, utensils, and counters where you handled raw animal products.
- Cook food thoroughly to kill any bacteria.
- Properly dispose of any food scraps immediately to avoid bacteria or fungal growth.
When food goes bad, get rid of it. You may think you got rid of the mold because you can’t see it anymore, but it can grow deeper than you think. There are a few kinds of food (firm fruits and vegetables, hard cheeses, and some cured meats) that are ok to eat with a little mold. But in general, don’t take the chance.
7. Dirty and Standing Water
You may not think water is that much of a threat, but if it comes from a source outside your house or from a sewage backup, it’s considered category 3 water damage. This means it likely contains harmful bacteria that can make you sick. Even if the water is from a less dangerous source, it can advance after 48 hours if not cleaned up.
This means the clock is ticking to clean up flood water. Use buckets, wet vacs, hoses, and whatever else you have to remove the water as quickly as possible. Then you need to start drying things out. Assess drywall and furniture to see if it’s salvageable. Most items with category 3 water damage will not be. If not, get them out of the way.
The sooner you get your home dry, the better chance you have of saving more of what was involved in the flood and avoiding a mold outbreak.
8. Human Biological Specimens
These could be any human tissue or samples taken at a hospital or clinic.don’t hesitate to contact us. Hopefully, the chances of specimens like these being at someone’s home are low. But stranger things have happened. These samples deteriorate rapidly when not kept in low temperatures and encourage the growth of bacteria.
It’s best to keep these in sealed containers except for examination with proper PPE and destroy the samples immediately afterward.
9. Disease cultures from a laboratory
While releasing harmful molds and bacteria from a lab doesn’t happen as often as you’d think from the movies, it is possible. Cultures of diseases are developed for many reasons, from direct patient care to drug R&D.
If well-established safety protocols at labs are followed, these accidents are virtually impossible. But if you find you may have been exposed to a pathogen by direct touch or inhalation, quarantine yourself and isolate any exposed clothing. Notify the lab and take any precautions necessary until you can be confirmed pathogen-free.
Let Utah Disaster Cleanup Handle Your Biohazard Removal
While homeowners can take care of smaller examples of a biohazard contamination for more extensive messes, it isn’t safe to do it yourself.
Our biohazard removal experts have the right experience and equipment to clean your home safely and thoroughly. You can be confident it will be safe for you and your family to re-enter.
When a biohazard strikes in your home or business, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re a short drive from Salt Lake Valley and surrounding areas, and we’ll hurry to your location to contain and remove the threat.