Safety issues associated with odor control and elimination must not be underestimated. The stark reality is that undertaking odor remediation or elimination can present some significant physical and mental health issues that need to be understood. All individuals involved in odor control and elimination needs to understand safety practices and protocols necessary to protect themselves and others as well. 

Due to the fact that odor remediation is a necessity in a wide range of situations, you need to understand the unique safety concerns that can exist with a particular type of odor control and elimination job. Some of the more frequently occurring situations in which odor control and elimination are required are:

  • Fire and smoke damage restoration and remediation
  • Blood cleaning and disinfection
  • Human feces and urine cleaning and disinfection
  • Animal droppings cleaning and disinfection
  • Crime scene remediation

Crucial Necessity of Comprehensive Site Assessment

When it comes to safety issues and odor control, the process of ensuring the remediation process is undertaken in an appropriately safe manner begins with a thorough site assessment. An important reality is that while similarities certainly exist from one site needing odor control and elimination to another, each location needing this type of remediation is unique unto itself. 

The site assessment includes such considerations as:

  • The size of the area impacted by an odor requiring remediation
  • The use of the site needing odor control and elimination (for example, a business versus a residential location)
  • The underlying cause for the odor contaminating the site (including fire and smoke, water and mold, urine and feces, human or animal decomposition, toxic gas residue, dust, soot, or drugs like meth)
  • Consideration of the chemical element underpinning the odor fouling a particular site
  • Examination of the physical structure and status of the contaminated site (including rough or jagged edges, wet or slippery surfaces, sharp items, falling debris, weakened structure, and other defects and hazards)
  • Potential presence of contagious pathogens or diseases (including HIV, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, MRSA, COVID-19, hantavirus, and others)

In addition, when undertaking a site assessment, consideration must be paid to ascertain the emotional or mental impact the situation that underpins an odor has on people associated with the site. For example, if odor remediation is necessary as part of a suicide cleanup and remediation, part of the assessment needs to focus on the impact the death has on other residents of a home or to family and friends more generally. The emotional impact this type of death and everything associated with it, including odor control and elimination, can be profound. Understanding this reality and ascertaining how those associated with the site where odor remediation is needed is a necessary component of the overall assessment process. 

In the final analysis, the information and data garnered from the site assessment work to establish the manner in which an odor remediation endeavor will proceed. The site assessment forms something of the guardrails within which odor control and elimination are undertaken.

Safety Involves Everyone

Safety is a ubiquitous concern when it comes to odor control and elimination. Truly, safety involves everyone. 

An odor remediation professional certainly must ensure that the team assembled for a project is safe and secure. More discussion on this specific issue, including the use of proper personal protective equipment, follows. 

Because safety involves everyone, the need for a suitable protocol during remediation extends to family members of a residence and a potentially broad spectrum of individuals at a business or other type of public location. If a professional undertakes odor remediation (which is the recommended course in many, many situations), the specialist is charged with ensuring that everyone’s safety is secured. In the end, this involves what fairly can be described as a three-part process. What must be done can be remembered as ICE: identify, communicate, eliminate:

  • Identify safety issues or concerns
  • Communicate these safety issues or concerns to the remediation team and to all other stakeholders (family members, business employees, and so forth)
  • Eliminate safety hazards (when possible)

In the grand scheme of things, experience is the best guide as to what does and does not present a true safety or health hazard when it comes to odor problems and remediating those types of issues. This reality underscores the importance of giving serious consideration to retaining the services of a professional odor control company to address this type of issue. 

Necessity of Authoritative Medical Consultation 

A professional odor control remediation specialist doesn’t rely on instinct when it comes to health and safety when undertaking an odor control and elimination project. If an individual homeowner or business owner elects to undertake this type of endeavor without professional assistance, that individual likely has no true reference point to draw upon when it comes to matters of health and safety. In the case of a professional as well as for a layperson, before embarking on anything but a minimal odor elimination project, a consultation should be had with a medical professional.

The discussion should include what a person on the verge of undertaking odor remediation will encounter during the endeavor. For example, the prospect might exist that an individual in this position might encounter some type of dangerous pathogen.

While the prospect of exposure to a dangerous pathogen dictates the type of personal protective equipment to be utilized, it raises other questions as well. Prime among them is whether from a health standpoint there might be some proactive preventative measures that can be utilized as part of a comprehensive safety effort. 

Consider the potential for exposure to hepatitis B in a particular situation. As a preventative measure, a person involved in this type of odor remediation effort can receive appropriate hepatitis B vaccination in advance of the commencement of a remediation effort. 

Legal Compliance

In addressing the matter of safety issues and odor control, consideration of legal compliance is also a major element of the process. There are local, state, and federal regulatory and compliance issues that must be addressed in regard to a biohazard remediation effort generally and odor eradication specially. 

Federal agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, maintain information and other resources that can prove invaluable when it comes to the matter of odor remediation, health, and safety. These resources readily are available through the agency websites via the links provided here. 

Proper Use of Chemicals and Equipment When Engaged in Odor Remediation

In regard to safety issues associated with odor control and elimination, there are some considerations that need to be borne in mind when it comes to the chemicals utilized in the process. Prime among them are protocols established by OSHA and other regulatory agencies that mandate that safety data sheets, commonly referred to as SDS, are available at the job site for every product or agent that will be utilized in the remediation process. 

These safety data sheets must be accessible not only to any professional crew members working on a remediation endeavor, but also to other stakeholders. These other stakeholders who must be provided access to SDS include a broad spectrum of people from residences of a home subjected to odor remediation to workers, patrons, vendors, and others at a business undergoing odor remediation. 

Proper Selection and Use of Personal Protective Equipment

The initial site assessment sets the general parameters for the types of personal protective equipment, or PPE, that will be needed for a particular odor remediation endeavor. When it comes to personal protective equipment needed for odor remediation, one size does not fit all. With that said, in any odor control and elimination project, some basic PPE is always necessary:

  • Protective mask or respirator
  • Gloves
  • Smock or uniform
  • Protective eyewear

Depending on the results of the site assessment, other types of personal protective equipment may also be necessary, including but not limited to:

  • Hard hats
  • Steel-shanked boots
  • HAZMAT suit

In the final analysis, when it comes to safety issues associated with odor control and elimination, there is not a one size fits all approach. Each situation must be individually analyzed and an appropriate safety masterplan developed to meet the needs of all involved in or associated with the odor remediation process. 

Author

Emily Kil

Co-Owner of Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company

Together with her husband, Emily Kil is co-owner of Eco Bear, a leading biohazard remediation company in Southern California. An experienced entrepreneur, Emily assisted in founding Eco Bear as a means of combining her business experience with her desire to provide assistance to people facing challenging circumstances. Emily regularly writes about her first-hand experiences providing services such as biohazard cleanup, suicide cleanup, crime scene cleanup, unattended death cleanup, infectious disease disinfection and other types of difficult remediations in homes and businesses.