According to www.AmericanRivers.org , every year hundreds of billions of gallons of untreated sewage flow into our rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Unknowingly, many Americans and their loved ones risk serious illness when untreated sewage seeps into the water they use for recreation or drinking. The EPA estimates that up to 3.5 million people fall ill from swimming in waters contaminated by sanitary sewer overflows alone ever year. However, the number of illnesses caused by raw sewage could be much higher. Many people that get sick from untreated sewage aren’t aware of the cause of their illness and don’t report it to their doctors or local health officials. Over 850 million gallons of untreated sewage overflows from combined sewer systems every year.
Raw sewage can be a serious health risk particularly if it enters drinking water or even water that is used for fishing and swimming. The pathogens related to untreated sewage are bacteria, parasites and viruses that are most commonly associated with acute illnesses like diarrhea. However, there is one virus that can cause an acute respiratory illness which are the adenoviruses (but they are also associated with illnesses such as gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis and rash illness), according to American Rivers.
The symptoms of respiratory illness caused by the adenovirus from untreated sewage can range from the common cold to pneumonia, croup and bronchitis. Those persons with compromised immune systems could be at serious risk of complications related to the adenovirus. If one is also in a condition of stress and overcrowding, you can develop acute respiratory disease (ARD). Some adenoviruses, like Adv36 (AD-36) may be associated with causing obesity. More information can be found at this website: http://www.reference.com/motif/health/health-effects-of-breathing-in-raw-sewage .
According to this commercial site: http://www.restorationsos.com/education/sewage-backup/the-hazards-of-sewage-backup.asp , sewage backup hazards are better understood once you learn what, in fact, sewage is; or as it also called raw sewage, sewage sludge, or septic tank waste. Raw sewage is mainly gray or black water. It usually contains the organic waste and wastewater produced by household and industrial sources. Sewage typically contains everything from soap to solid waste, human excrement, industrial effluent, and debris. It is discharged by drains and sewer lines. Excrement is the major source of harmful microorganisms such as coliform, fecal coliform, Escherichia coliform (E. coli), and Enterococcus. Exposure to sewage or its products may result in a number of diseases:
Gastroenteritis--An inflammation of the stomach and the intestine. Gastroenteritis may result in diarrhea with vomiting and cramps when irritation is excessive. When caused by an infectious agent, it is often associated with fever.
Hepatitis--Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis caused by a virus is known as viral hepatitis. When Hepatitis is a result of sewage backup it is often characterized by inflammation of the liver and jaundice.
Occupational Asthma--A respiratory disorder characterized by attacks of breathlessness, chest tightness and wheezing.
Weil's Disease--An acute feverish disease marked by gastroenteritis, mild jaundice, persistent and severe headache.
Allergic Alveolitis--Inflammation of the alveoli in the lungs. It is rarely reported with relation to sewage backup. However, when reported it is characterized by fever, breathlessness, dry cough, and aching muscles and joints.
Per the abovementioned site, here are some additional health risks:
• Fatal damage to liver, kidneys and blood
• Infection of skin or eyes
There are 3 common transmission ways for microorganisms to enter a human body:
1. Hand-to-Mouth Contact: This is the most common transmission way and it occurs during eating, drinking and smoking. Hand-to-mouth contact also happens while wiping the face with contaminated hands or gloves, or by licking splashes from the skin.
2. Skin Contact Skin contact with contaminated organisms is often possible through cuts, scratches, or penetrating wounds. Certain organisms can enter the body through the surfaces of the eyes, nose and mouth.
3. Inhalation Contaminated organisms may penetrate the body simply as we breathe aerosolized particles or contaminated dust.
According to this article: http://ezinearticles.com/?Sewage-Damage---The-Health-Risks-it-Poses-to-People&id=1911368 , the general public is the one being at risk of sewage damage. It is ordinary to hear and read news about cases of hepatitis, cholera and other diseases due to exposure to untreated sewage. Over 120 variants of viruses can be seen in human feces, urine and sewage damage which can lead their way to sewage. Parasitic agents such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium can cause chronic intestinal illnesses in children and adults. Bacterial pathogens abound in places with sewage damage can consist of strains of gram-negative organisms like Campylobacter, Salmonella and E. coli.
Aside from the strains of gram-negative bacteria, gram-negative bacteria also produce endotoxins which occur at the point of cell's death and elimination. Endotoxins can manifest in the air through remediation, take for example the cleaning and drying of infected carpets. Public health risks can also be incurred through improper sewage damage disposal and transport from hospitals and other industrial companies. These could lead to public health's declining status due to unscrupulous manner of managing their wastes, per the ezine article.
Exposure to sewage is dangerous. Any time you see it, you should report the case immediately to health authorities, or even call 911. Stay away from any open sewage or areas that have been recently damaged by the waste. If your home or office suffers from an issue regarding this health hazard, deal with it right away by contacting reputable companies that specialize in treatment, removal, and restoration. Sewage can cause life threatening diseases, so be careful when any problems develop.
Until next time.