With alarming regularity, the remains are finally found of a person who experienced what had been an undiscovered death in Southern California. There are a number of more common scenarios that lead to an undiscovered death. In addition, the undiscovered death cleanup process can prove to be remarkably challenging, calling for the professional assistance of a biohazard remediation specialist.
Most Common Types of Undiscovered Deaths
Undiscovered death cases involve a number of different types of scenarios. The most common types of undiscovered deaths in Southern California involve:
- Illness or disease
The reality is that in some situations, the death of a person is not discovered for days, weeks, or even months. When a death is the result of a homicide, the perpetrator may strive to ensure that the remains of the deceased are not found immediately, if at all. On the other hand, there are many examples of individuals who die in their own homes and whose remains are not discovered for an extended period of time for one reason or another.
Undiscovered Death and the Human Decomposition Process
In order to better understand the complexities associated with the undiscovered death cleanup, a person needs to have an essential understanding of the human decomposition process. What many people may not realize is that the human decomposition process technically begins when a person dies.
The human body is filled with billions of what commonly are referred to as “good bacteria.” These bacteria are particularly abundant in a person’s pancreas and intestines.
At the time of death, blood stops flowing throughout the body. When this occurs, bacteria loose access their primary source of nutrients. When this happens, bacteria turn to the body itself for sustenance. In other words, bacteria begin to consume organs and other components of a deceased body.
Within the matter of 72 hours, the pancreas and intestines will have been thoroughly attacked by bacteria. When this breakdown occurs, bacteria that had been contained by these organs break loose and spread throughout the body. The bacteria attack other organs, including the skin, in this same manner.
Within a couple of days, evidence of the human decomposition process becomes evident. The body starts to bloat and the skin begins to change color. Foul smelling gasses will begin to be released from the body directly after that. Within about a week, fluids begin to seep out of the bottom. In addition, the skin begins to breakdown and open, releasing even more fluids and gasses.
There are four generally recognized stages to the overall human decomposition process:
- Fresh: No evident external sign of decomposition exists at this stage. Nonetheless, decomposition is well underway.
- Bloat: The first evidence of decomposition appears. Gasses as well as fluids accumulating in the remains cause the body to bloat. At this time gasses begin to release, causing initial foul odor. Similarly, fluids begin to pass from the remains as well, contaminating the surrounding area.
- Active Decay: This is the stage at which the greatest amount of decay and most abundant release of gasses happens.
- Advanced Decay: At this juncture, the decomposition process is nearly completed.
- Dry: The decomposition process has ceased and the remains primarily consist of bones.
Hazardous Pathogens, Human Decomposition, and Undiscovered Death Cleanup
The human decomposition process can result in the release of what are known as dangerous biological pathogens. Pathogens include viruses and bacteria that can infect humans and result in the development of dangerous and even fatal diseases.
When undiscovered death cleanup is undertaken, extreme care must be taken to protect against this type of infection. Consequently, specific personal protective equipment must be worn by an individual involved in undiscovered death cleanup. This equipment includes:
- Mask or respirator
- Smock, apron, uniform
Stages of Undiscovered Death Cleanup
As mentioned at the start of this discussion, undiscovered death cleanup is challenging, indeed one of the most complicated and even dangerous scenarios a biohazard remediation professional faces. With proper personal protective equipment in place, a Southern California undiscovered death cleanup specialist begins the process by actually cleaning up the biological material that is left behind once the remains have been removed by the county coroner. This material is classified as a biohazard and must properly be contained, transported, and disposed of according to the proscriptions of California law.
The next phase of the undiscovered death remediation process is the sanitization of the affected area. At this stage, an undiscovered death remediation specialist utilized specialized chemicals that are designed to thoroughly eliminate harmful pathogens that may be present at the scene.
The third stage of the comprehensive undiscovered death cleanup process is deodorization. The scene of an undiscovered death can be particularly malodorous, primarily due to a pair of gasses known as cadaverine and putrescine.
Eliminating the “stench of death” is particularly challenging but must be accomplished. The removal of biological materials and the elimination of harmful pathogens is vital, of course. However, the scene of a unattended death simply is not habitable until any odor associated with the situation is completely eliminated.
There are a number of reasons why laypeople (homeowners, for example) should not embark on this type of effort and should seek out the assistance of an experienced, compassionate Southern California undiscovered death cleanup professional.
- First, the undiscovered death cleanup process exposes a person to dangerous pathogens.
- Second, a layperson lacks the experience, equipment, supplies, and materials necessary to really perform a comprehensive remediation
- Third, a person who is called upon to address an undiscovered death is likely to be a family member already experiencing tremendous trauma over the situation. Magnifying those emotions by shouldering responsibility for the actual undiscovered death cleanup is unnecessary and ill advised.