Clark Seif Clark Inc.

Sewage Contamination in Buildings can Expose People to Microbial Toxins


Source: Clark Seif Clark Inc.

The environmental professionals at Clark Seif Clark (CSC) provide testing services for homes and businesses that have experienced sewage contamination

Chatsworth, CA, July 24th, 2012 -- California residents are used to hearing about beach closures due to sewage spills and high bacteria counts in the water off of the state’s famous beaches.  Raw sewage can contain a host of potentially harmful substances, including: viruses, bacteria, protozoa, parasites, and fungi.


Just as health professionals take sewage in the beaches serious, people who have experienced a sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) in their home, school or place of business should also be aware of the risks associated with sewage in an indoor environment. 


One area of concern during a SSO is the possible presence of endotoxins.  Endotoxins are a type of bacterial toxin that is located in the cell wall component of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria.   Bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Helicobacter, which are often associated with sewage contamination events, are all Gram-negative types of bacteria.    


A sanitary sewer overflow can be caused by a number of events such as a blocked sewer drain, broken pipes and even as a result of flooding.  Building occupants and restoration and remediation contractors may be exposed to these harmful toxins.  Not only can people be directly exposed to endotoxins by touching contaminated materials, but they can also breathe these toxins if they have become airborne during the drying or removal process.


“Exposure to endotoxins can cause health concerns,” reported Derrick A. Denis, V.P. Indoor Environmental Quality at Clark Seif Clark, a leading indoor air quality (IAQ) and environmental consulting firm.  “It’s important that when a SSO occurs that people take the necessary precautions to prevent exposure to endotoxins and other potential microbial hazards.  Surface and air testing can quickly determine if these toxins or other harmful microorganisms are present.” 


CSC recently sponsored an educational online video about endotoxins that can be seen at:


To learn more about responding to a sewage contamination occurrence or other indoor air quality (IAQ), industrial hygiene, or health and safety issues, please visit, email or call (800) 807-1118. 


About Clark Seif Clark (CSC)

CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both public and private sectors address environmental, IAQ, and health and safety (EH&S) issues.  CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.

Customer comments

  1. By Robin Somerville on

    There is an easy fix to these problems and avoid potential worker risks Robin