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The 3 Categories of Water Contamination

The damage caused by water can be extensive depending on the amount of water involved and how long the water is allowed to stand. The extent of the damage and the amount of cleanup required also depends on what type of water is involved in the damage. There are three categories of water: Clean, Grey and Black.

Category 1: Clean Water

Clean water does not pose any substantial harm to humans or pets. When damage occurs from clean water it is usually caused by

  • broken water supply lines
  • overflowing bathtubs or sinks
  • appliance malfunctions
  • melting ice or snow
  • broken toilets that do not contain contaminants or additives

Though clean water can cause extensive damage it is the easiest to deal with because you do not have to worry about contamination. However, as clean water comes in contact with other surfaces and materials it may become grey or black water as it dissolves or mixes with soils and contaminants over time.

Category 2: Grey Water

Unsanitary water that contains some degree of contaminants is called grey water. It can cause discomfort or sickness if it is consumed by humans or pets. Grey water comes from sources such as:

  • Discharge from dishwashers or washing machines
  • Overflowing washing machines
  • Overflowing toilets containing urine but not feces
  • Broken aquariums
  • Punctured water beds

Grey water sources may contain chemicals and/or fungal, bacterial, viral or algae contaminants. Time and temperature will aggravate grey water contamination significantly, and can compromise indoor air quality. Grey water in flooded structures that remains untreated for more than 48 hours can become Black water.

Category 3: Black Water

Black water always contains pathogenic agents and is grossly unsanitary. Black water sources stem from sewage and other highly contaminated sources. Black water is classed as water that contains urine and feces, as well as water that contains dangerous chemicals or medical wastes. Any toilet backflow that originates from beyond the toilet trap is considered to contain Black water regardless of colour or visible content. Water in this category includes:

  • All forms of sea water
  • All ground surface water
  • Any water from rivers or streams
  • Water containing pesticides
  • Water containing heavy metals, such as lead
  • Water containing toxic organic substances

Water damage from black water can cause serious indoor air quality issues, and cleanup and decontamination should only be handled by trained professionals like the team from 24/7 Restoration.

If you require flood or water damage cleanup contact 24/7 Restoration today at 403.247.4365 and visit for more information.

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