The Complex, Hidden Dangers of Biohazard Cleanup

Biohazard cleanup is an extremely complex form of cleaning and restoration. Not only does it always involve some sort of traumatic, emotional event, it also poses a great risk for everyone involved– from the insurance adjuster, to the biohazard remediation company, and at last, the property owner that has been deeply affected by a tragedy. There are many cleaning and restoration companies that offer biohazard cleanup services, but before you consider them, you must understand that only companies that actually specialize in biohazard cleanup truly understand the science behind biohazard waste removal and decontamination. In any instance where you need these types of services, consider the following challenges of bioremediation and understand the standard protocol which every biohazard technician must comply with.

The Obstacles of Biohazard Remediation

Every type of property damage is a pain to deal with.  Whether it’s from water damage or cleaning up after a fire, there are always obstacles to deal with when restoring your property from damage. However, nothing compares to situations involving biohazard remediation, like murder, suicide, and unattended death cleanup.  Because of potential exposure to bloodborne pathogens, biohazard cleanup poses major health risks to the property owner and the biohazard cleanup technicians assigned to handle the blood cleanup.

Key Risks Associated with Blood Clean Up

  • 1 out of 24 people are carriers Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV.
  • More than 1.2 million people in the US are living with HIV; 1 in 8 of them don’t know it [1]
  • Bloodborne pathogens can survive up to 16 days after death (depending on temperature and environment) [2]

Unfortunately, these pathogens are more common than many realize and there are several ways one can be exposed to these pathogens: via direct contact with ‘broken’ skin and in many cases, exposure from splashes of biofluid through the mouth, nose, or eyes. Due to these risks, it is imperative that property owners avoid attempting DIY blood cleanup and that you hire biohazard cleanup professional that will comply with safety regulations and proper decontamination protocols that the average restoration service company won’t be trained on.

Not only is exposure to bloodborne pathogens a risk, but there are also hidden dangers that the average property restoration franchise won’t address. Traditional property damage companies that deal with water damage typically look for visible damage, such as warped floor boards, mold issues, or unsalvageable drywall. The method of inspection is all visual and generally effective for water damage, but blood and biohazard cleanup is whole a different story. In contrast to water, blood has a way of finding its way into grout and between floorboards, all the way down to the subflooring. Unlike the procedure for traditional property damage, the only way to resolve blood cleanup sometimes is to remove all the affected materials. Simply wiping down tiles or installing new wood floors over a blood spill will result in hidden biomatter spreading disease, releasing odors, and causing continued damage to the property.

The Hidden Dangers of Improper Biohazard Cleanup

We know cost is a major concern to not only the property owner, but also the insurance professional handling a bioremediation claim. Performing a blood spill cleanup or biohazard remediation of any kind in one room can cost more than recovering a completely flooded home. This often creates the temptation to retain a well-known, traditional restoration company at a lower cost, instead of properly trained hiring biohazard cleanup professionals. Doing so can put the insurer at risk for a major lawsuit.

There have been many notable cases where an insurance company retained a traditional property restoration company to handle biohazard cleanup situations. Whether it was an attempt to cut cost or due to negligence, the insurer can be held liable for improperly executed restorations.

Most general cleaning companies cannot properly sanitize damages from murder, suicide, unattended death, or any damage involving bio-fluids, such as pet death. When improperly sanitized, homeowners and property owners can end up experiencing continued odors and the exposure to biomatter via inhalation can increase the risk of illness. Consequently, this creates situations where the policyholder sues the insurance company for further damages and in many cases, a lawsuit to replace the entire property due to being deemed inhabitable.

Tips on Evaluating Bioremediation Companies

Before retaining a bioremediation company, insurance providers need to ensure they have a broad understanding of what qualifies a company to handle biohazard cleanup and fully contaminate property damage due to blood spills or other tragedies.

Key Attributes In Determining A Qualified Bioremediation Company

  • OSHA Compliance – OSHA is the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation. The regulations they enforce are put in place to protect the employees involved in the biohazard cleanup, as well as everyone else affected by such tragedies. Ensuring that all supervisors and their technicians within the company are trained in the proper OSHA programs is crucial when retaining services. These programs include: Bloodborne Pathogens, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Hazard Communication, Asbestos Awareness, Heat Illness, Fall Protection, Lift Safety, Lock Out – Tag Out, and Power Tool Safety. Many restoration companies only comply with OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standards, instead of all of the preceding programs mentioned.
  • Sensitivity Training – Generally, all property damage is difficult to deal with. Whether it’s water damage due to a busted pipe or fire damage due to bad wiring in your home, regardless of the extent of the damage, it will affect your life indefinitely. However, loss of a loved one is traumatic, beyond compare and dealing with family members in these trying times calls for special sensitivity training. In contrast to most damage restoration companies, biohazard cleanup technicians deal with tragic, life-altering situations on every job they perform. It is imperative that the technicians be trained in sensitivity, whether it be eliminating alarming language from their vocabulary when on duty or speaking emphatically to the family members present on site.
  • Reporting – The documentation and cataloging of the entire process, from start to finish, is crucial for a company to include within their package of services. This not only includes detailed documents of the job, but also still photographs surveying all the damages so that there is complete understanding between the policyholder and insurance company on what is being performed. Each job requires a different level of service, whether it’s structural materials being replaced, belongings being disposed of, or even the amount of protective equipment being used on the job. All of these factors affect the cost and proper reporting is indispensable to everyone involved.
  • Federal & State Environmental Agency Compliance – Biohazard waste disposal must be in accordance with federal, state, and local disposal regulations. Choosing a biohazard remediation company that is licensed to transport medical waste will not ensure that the job is performed completely, but it will negate the need to retain another company for biohazard waste disposal. There are massive fines when biohazard materials are not disposed of properly.

Due to the lack of laws protecting policyholders from improperly executed biohazard clean up, the responsibility falls on the insurance company to retain the right biohazard remediation company. More often than not, the person needing biohazard cleanup has experienced a traumatic event that will have them in an emotional state. Peace of mind is priceless, especially when dealing with a person that has experienced the loss of a loved one, so ensuring the biohazard remediation company chosen to do the job meets all the requirements is fundamental.

Advanced Bio Treatment meets all of these qualifications and more.  To see all of our certifications and to find out more about our company, please read our FAQ.


Resources

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “HIV in the United States: At A GlanceLink
  2. National Aids Manual, “HIV & AIDS Information – Bodily Fluids Surviving Outside The Body” Link

Veteran Suicide Daily: Twenty-Two Too Many

Our veterans are in trouble– a lot of trouble. The veteran suicide rate is at an all-time high.

According to K9s for Warriors, a veteran commits suicide almost every hour each day. On average, twenty-two veterans take their own lives every day because they cannot cope with what they have experienced in their military service, because what they have endured during their service has traumatized them emotionally, mentally, and physically?

We think that’s twenty-two too many.

Did you know that, according to the Wounded Warrior Project, over 55% of homeless people are veterans? Over 50% of these homeless veterans suffer from a physical disability or from PTSD or TBI (traumatic brain injury) or both, and they are homeless because they can’t successfully transition back into civilian life, can’t get the medical help they need, and can’t find jobs because of their disabilities.

Isn’t it time we gave back to those who gave so much to us? Giving back can be something as simple as knowing where to turn and gently throwing out that lifeline to the veteran who does not or cannot make that turn by him or herself. Fortunately, there are many ways you can give back to these veterans by volunteering and also simply by knowing how to direct a veteran in your life, who needs help, to resources that offer the compassion, understanding, and lifeline a veteran in crisis needs.

Recognizing Crisis Situations Before Veteran Suicide

Veteran suicide might be a risk if he/she:

  • feels hopeless, depressed, anxious, or agitated.
  • has trouble sleeping.
  • exhibits drastic or frequent mood changes and difficulty controlling his or her emotions, especially when a threat is perceived.
  • has bursts of anger or rage.
  • abuses alcohol or drugs.
  • withdraws from family, friends, and activities he or she once enjoyed.
  • engages in risky, poorly planned activities.
  • talks about, thinks about, or threatens suicide or harm to others.
  • has trouble making what seems like simple decisions.
  • suffers from memory loss, migraines, or seizures.

All of these behaviors are indicators of PTSD and / or TBI and mean that the veteran needs immediate help. Research strongly supports that both of these disorders directly lead to homelessness and suicide among our veterans.

How To Prevent Veteran Suicide

The VCL: Veterans Crisis Line

Veterans thinking of suicide or need help can call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 or send a text message to 838255.

Crisis Chat Line

www.VeteransCrisisLine.net/chat

These phone, text, and chat services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Families and friends of veterans can also call, text, or chat. If you suspect a veteran you know is in trouble, please reach out to these services before the crisis escalates to a suicide attempt.

Since its inception in 2007, the VCL has answered over two million calls. Over 61,000 of those calls required immediate emergency services, which the responders on the crisis line dispatched.

The chat and text services have received over 300,000 requests for help.

The responders at all three of these services are specially trained and have experience dealing with the problems and issues unique to veterans of all ages and backgrounds. They assist veterans with PTSD, mental problems, relationship problems, and problems transitioning back into civilian life.

K9s for Warriors

http://www.k9sforwarriors.org

A nonprofit organization that “matches unwanted dogs with war veterans” (1), this group is very close to our hearts here at ABT, and we proudly volunteer with them regularly right here in Ponte Vedra, FL. This group rescues dogs from high-kill shelters, trains them, and guess what? The dogs rescue their veteran companions right back.

After the dogs are trained by professional handlers at “Camp K9,” they are matched to a veteran suffering from PTSD, TBI, or military sexual trauma. The pair then trains together for several weeks at “Camp K9,” where the dogs and the veterans live during the training, and at the end of the training, the pair takes a certification test. The dog becomes the veteran’s life-long service companion.

Since 2011, “K9s for Warriors” has rescued 306 dogs, and 236 veterans, with their service dogs, have graduated from the program. That’s 542 lives saved, at no cost to the veterans!

We at ABT are proud to give back a small fraction of the enormity of what our veterans give to us. We support our veterans and also our active military personnel, and we support non-profit organizations like “K9s for Warriors” who dedicate their lives and resources to veterans – because no veteran should fall through the cracks of the country he or she served. Because no veteran should be forgotten or neglected by the country he or she put his life on the line for. Because 22 lost veterans each day is 22 too many.

We are Advanced Bio Treatment. We are here for you 24 hours every day of the year, and we take emergency calls and work with your insurance company. Should you need our suicide cleanup services, please call us at 800-295-1684.

Resources

  1. K9s For Warriors Aims To Rescue 10 Dogs To Help Veterans With PTSD In Summer FundraiserLink (Huffington Post, 2013)

Bone Marrow Donation In High Demand: The Eliana Rose Story

Meet Eliana Rose Istre– the daughter of Melissa and USMC Gunnery Sgt Istre. Eliana was diagnosed with a rare form of Severe Congenital Neutropenia called Kostmann’s Syndrome, which directly hinders the production of neutrophils in bone marrow. Neutrophils are the tiny white blood cells that form an essential part of the immune system to fight infection and disease. Without these cells, Eliana fights on a daily basis to stay alive. Any illness she comes in contact with, quickly escalates into an emergency room visit. The only cure is to find a proper match through bone marrow donation. Despite this struggle, little Eliana fights the discomforts of this syndrome with a smile on her face.

How To Donate Blood Marrow: Be The Match

Fortunately, there is hope thanks to Be The Match, an organization dedicated to finding donors for people with life-threatening blood diseases. Recently, on Saturday, July 16, employees with Advanced Bio Treatment, alongside a veteran formed motorcycle club, the Infidels, hosted a ‘Be The Match’ bone marrow donor registration drive in Niceville, FL.  In a single afternoon, the team successfully registered 50 new people. Each of those 50 people have a chance at being the person that saves little Eliana’s life, as well as the other 14,000 people looking for a donor.

bone-marrow-donation

Are you interested in being a donor? Signing up for Be The Match is a simple, 15-minute process and doesn’t require you to attend an event– it can all be done online! As long as you are between the age of 18 & 44, you can be the cure to someone in need of a bone marrow donation. The first step of donating bone marrow is to join the Be The Match Registry. Once you receive the full application, use the materials included in the kit to swab the insides of your cheeks (in the same manner as you brush your teeth), and then you simply send it back to Be The Match. Keep in mind, not everyone in the registry will be asked to donate; in fact, only 1 in 430 people are asked to donate. If asked to donate, the typical donation process can take from 20-30 hours of your time, spread out over a 4-6 week period. Being a bone marrow donor is an important commitment; help children like Eliana find their life saver.

For more information on this, please visit Be The Match. Also, make sure to follow the Team Eliana Rose Facebook page to find more information on how you can support her on her journey to well-being. Employees from ABT will be hosting another bone marrow donation drive in August (TBD) in attempts to find more donors.