Flood Water Health Risks

Flood Water Health Risks

When your home or business experiences a flood, it’s important to remember that not all floodwaters are the same. Depending on the source of the water, there can be any number of particulates or biohazards involved. ServiceMaster Superior Cleaning & Restoration Services of Westchester and Fairfield Counties is here to help you differentiate among flood waters and which types are the biggest hazards to your health. Remember, cleaning up flood water is always a job best left to a professional, especially if these waters are the result of a storm or a sewage backup. Just so you know, our team of water damage experts is on call 24/7 for emergency water cleanup! In the meantime, read our flood water guide below and make sure you keep yourself safe before the professionals arrive on site to begin the restoration process.

Clear, Clean or Whitewater

Whitewater usually results from overflowing sinks, broken water supply lines or a damaged faucet. This type of flood water has few contaminants and is a minimal health threat. It is generally safe to come into contact with these waters but remember – all water damage involves time as a crucial factor. Standing white water can become grey water in as little as 48 hours if a professional is not called in to begin the cleanup process.


Greywater, also known as sullage, is wastewater from bathtubs and showers, washing machines, dishwashers, sinks and other malfunctioning appliances. It does not contain fecal matter and generally has fewer contaminants and pathogens than black water. There will be trace amounts of bacteria, soap, bleach, grease or food residue. It, therefore, poses a greater health risk than whitewater and should be approached with caution. Wear protective gear such as rubber boots and gloves and keep away children, pets, or other individuals with a compromised immune system. Grey water can also come from a severe weather event, an overflowing plumbing fixture or a broken pipe and can saturate carpeting, furniture, and drywall. Water damage cleanup should always happen immediately – grey water can turn into black water within 48 hours!


Blackwater is the most hazardous of all the flood water types. Blackwater contains fecal matter or human waste and comes from flush toilets and bidets, sewage backups, or severe flooding from a hurricane or other natural disaster. It can contain dangerous chemicals, disease-causing organisms, and varieties of animal and human waste. Blackwater can also come from food preparation sinks or commercial dishwashers. Raw sewage is considered black water. You should NEVER attempt to clean up black water by yourself and should always call in a professional cleaning team to take care of this for you. It is an extremely significant health hazard that should be taken seriously. If you suspect that you have black water flood waters at your home or business, call us right away.

Being a more informed home or business owner can help you make the right choices for your property. Take note of the different varieties of flood water that can occur when you have standing water somewhere in your home or building. Always trace the source of the water, and if you’re not sure where it’s coming from, then it’s best to call ServiceMaster Superior Cleaning & Restoration Services in Westchester and Fairfield Counties and we can help you.