Tainted indoor air quality is a frequent and significant side-effect of home water damage. Breathing in the indoor environment can be affected by numerous processes that are triggered by water exposure. Contaminated air can, in some cases, make a water-damaged house hazardous to enter until professional water damage remediation has rendered it safe and healthy once more.
Here’s a brief overview of indoor air quality issues resulting from water damage.
Water damage and toxic mold often go hand-in-hand as moisture contacts dormant mold spores present inside any structure. Once triggered by water, these dormant spores convert into active growing mold. Millions of airborne microscopic reproductive spores containing mycotoxins are subsequently released. Concentrated in the enclosed indoor environment, active spores inhaled by individuals with certain sensitivities may trigger physical reactions ranging from allergic symptoms to chronic illness.
In addition to toxic air, active mold growth (and its cousin, mildew) is well-known for its pervasive musty odor that tends to penetrate all parts of the home. Professional deodorizing methods are usually required to remove the lingering odor after mold remediation.
Water is the universal solvent. When a house is affected by water damage, paint, glues, carpeting, and other substances that become saturated may release toxic fumes like volatile organic compounds, solvents, and other chemical vapors. Airborne microorganisms, including viruses and bacteria, also breed very efficiently in a wet indoor environment and contaminate air quality.
Not all water damage is equal. Water that originates from a sewage backup or inundation from outdoor flooding is Category 3 water—known as “black water”—and classified as a biohazard to humans. This noxious water carries fecal matter and other organic material that contains living and dead bacteria. Airborne endotoxins released by black water are dangerous pathogens that typically infect indoor air and cause severe respiratory illness when inhaled. Any Category 3 water is a health threat that should only be handled by trained water damage professionals with proper biohazard techniques and disinfection methods.