Health Risks Associated With Sewer Backups

April 26, 2021

Sewer backup

The idea of a sewer backup in a major city can make a lot of people anxious. The larger the sewer system, the more people it’ll affect. New York City’s sewer system is one of the largest, so it’s crucial that we understand the health risks associated with sewer backups. Knowing these, we can easily see why proper sewer maintenance is so critical to the health of everyone in the city.

What Causes Sewer Backups?

If you’ve lived in New York City for any period of time, you’ve probably heard of the infamous “fatbergs” that can spell disaster for its sewer systems. Backups like these result from people throwing things in the toilet or down their drains that don’t belong in the sewer system. This includes fats and oils that people dump down their kitchen drains as well as items such as those so-called “flushable” wipes. It’s up to everyone to know what they can and can’t put down their drains to help the sewer system stay unclogged.

Possible Diseases Caused by Sewer Backups

People can contract a host of diseases from sewer backups once they become exposed to the sewage. Some of these include:

  • Diarrheagenic E. coli – Caused by E. coli, commonly found in human and animal excrement. Results in abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and can lead to death.
  • Salmonellosis – Caused by salmonella. Causes fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
  • Hepatitis A – A viral liver disease. Caused by ingesting fecal matter with similar symptoms as E. coli.
  • Gastroenteritis – Also called the stomach flu. Fever, headaches, and vomiting are common.
  • Acanthamoeba – Bacteria that can cause eye, ear, nose, and throat infections.

These are just a few of the terrible diseases that a backed-up sewer can cause. When considering the population density in New York City, even a tiny percentage of people getting these diseases can prove disastrous.

Sewer Gas Exposure

A sewer backup doesn’t just affect the water supply. When the contaminated air in the sewer system has nowhere to go, it can filter back up through drains into people’s homes. This becomes a serious problem, as even minor exposure to sewer gas can cause eye irritation, sore throat, shortness of breath, and coughing fits.

Now that you have a basic idea of the health risks associated with sewer backups, you can recognize how important it is that we prevent them and fix them whenever possible. Harris Main and Water Sewer Contractors can provide new sewer line installation when the problem gets out of hand.

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