Residential Water Damage & Health Risks

by | Nov 15, 2020 | Flood Damage, Mold Damage, Water Damage | 0 comments

Water damage to structures, especially residential buildings, if left un-remediated, can affect the building’s integrity and the health of its occupants. Almost all homeowners have dealt with property water damage and know how detrimental it is for their structure, but few realize its health effects and how impactful it can be when it comes to triggering certain health risks.

Multiple sources can trigger different types of water damage including clean water, grey, and black water damage. Each of these water damage types can influence the indoor air quality, mold growth, and foul scent molecules to trigger several health concerns.

Continuous exposure to any of different water types can make you quite sick and the symptoms are sometimes mild and overlooked until it becomes a major concern. This piece of content highlights the different health risks associated with residential water damage types.

Standing water

Irrespective of its type, residential water damage often leads to a standing water situation. Stagnant water is standing water that is trapped or sits undisturbed for hours/days. Standing or stagnant water could be a result of flood and water leaks. Basements, crawl spaces, and bathrooms are common areas where you can find standing water.

Plumbing leaks within the house or rainwater leaking through the roof or windows can also be some of the main causes of stagnant water. While these can be clean sources of standing water, sources like flooding and sewage backups can be the contaminated source of standing water.

Standing water can be a good breeding source for insects like mosquitoes. This gives way to problems like malaria and dengue. Zika virus and West Nile Virus can be bigger or serious concerns that can even lead to fatality.

Similarly, mice, rats, and possums can always be on the lookout for watering holes. They can spread diseases and consider your house as the perfect place to thrive.

Some of the health risks associated with standing water are:

  • Malaria
  • Rotavirus
  • Fungus
  • Dengue Fever
  • Entamoeba
  • Zika fever

Stagnant water is often hard to detect and goes unnoticed especially in areas like crawlspaces and lawns. Preventing standing water is the key to alleviating related health hazards.

Standing water poses the following threats:

Chemical exposure:

A flood-affected home presents potential chemical hazards. The floodwater, in addition to containing human and livestock waste, can also carry coal ash and other chemical contaminants. The possibility of chemical and oil spills during a flood is always higher.

A car battery in floodwaters can electrocute you. Also, be mindful of any acid or fuel fills from propane tanks or generators.

Mold growth

Mold growth followed by water damage is a certainty if the high humidity state is not addressed in a timely manner. Residential mold growth poses the biggest threat to its occupant’s health. Mold spores are ubiquitous and can enter your home via multiple sources including windows, doors, pets, and air regulation vents.

The presence of ideal conditions can help the mold spores to flourish and spread in no time. This is the exact condition that water damage can provide. The ability of the spores to latch on to multitudes of materials including drywall, carpets, wood, and paper seconds its quick spread. There are different mold types including Cladosporium, Chaetomium, and Penicillium that can trigger a variety of health concerns.

Some basic symptoms of mold allergies are:

  • Irritating eyes and nose
  • Prolonged coughing
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sneezing

Difficulty breathing, chest congestion, and chronic cough could be elevated symptoms of mold exposure. Such concerns if not addressed quickly could lead to complex conditions including asthma.

Mold exposure can be severe in children and individuals with a compromised or weakened immune system like the elderly.

Residential water damage is not 100 percent preventable, but it is 100 percent treatable.  However, the tendency among the house owners to overlook the remediation process or to handle it by themselves seems to be on the rise. Residential water damage, by all means, requires a specialist to be taken care of, especially if you have elderly or children at home. When you decide to handle the water damage remediation process by yourself next time, ask yourself these questions.

Do you know how to differentiate different types of water damage?

Do you know how to regulate the ideal indoor humidity and air quality that would thwart mold growth?


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