Frequently Asked Questions
- What are biological hazards and why are they dangerous?
- Biological hazards, also known as biohazards, refer to biological substances that pose a threat to the health of living organisms, primarily that of humans and animals. Biohazards can include blood, bodily fluids and tissue containing bacteria, viruses or toxins that can affect human health. Bacteria, viruses and toxins by themselves are considered to be biohazards.
Bloodborne pathogens are those diseases that live in human blood. Many of these diseases can also live in bodily fluids.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are three of the most common bloodborne pathogens from which workers and the public are at risk. Exposure to these diseases can occur in one of two ways:
- A percutaneous injury in which a person’s skin is damaged by an object resulting in a cut or puncture, or
- Contact of mucous membrane or non-intact skin with blood, tissue, or other potentially infectious bodily fluids.
HIV, in certain conditions, can survive outside the body for several weeks. Survival depends on the type of body fluid enveloping the virus, volume of the body fluid, concentration of the virus, temperature, acidity, and exposure to sunlight and humidity.
Hepatitis B virus can live in dried blood for up to a week. Hepatitis C virus can survive for up to four days.
Hepatitis is ten times more common than HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) in the United States. More people now die of Hepatitis C than of HIV. Antibiotics can treat bacterial infections but they do not treat viral infections. Hepatitis A, B and C are virus borne diseases. It is estimated that 1 out of 20 people in the US are infected with some type of Hepatitis.
- Biohazard Level 1: Bacteria and viruses including Bacillus subtilis, canine hepatitis, Escherichia coli, varicella (chicken pox), as well as some cell cultures and non-infectious bacteria.
- Biohazard Level 2: Bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol such as hepatitis A, B, and C, some influenza A strains, Lyme disease, salmonella, mumps, measles, scrapie, dengue fever, HIV.
- Biohazard Level 3: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, MERS coronavirus, hantaviruses, tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level.
- Biohazard Level 4: Viruses and bacteria that cause severe to fatal disease in humans, and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, Lassa fever virus, Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other hemorrhagic diseases and rishibola.
- How do I find a reputable biohazard cleanup company?
- Bio recovery remediation is a regulated, complex, labor-intensive and hazardous undertaking. The process can be distressing and emotionally taxing for the untrained.
Bio recovery includes proper selection and donning of personal protective equipment, zoning to secure the location and prevent inadvertent cross-contamination, pre-remediation ATP testing to establish microbial benchmarks, engaging proper bio recovery techniques to contain the exposure and avoid further damage to content and structure, selecting the correct disinfectants, applying disinfectants in compliance with the manufacturer’s directions and safety data sheets, employing correct touch and touchless decontamination technologies, conducting regulated packaging, transport and incineration of biohazard materials recovered and post-remediation ATP testing to demonstrate the operation’s efficacy. Secondary exposures to lead, asbestos, Chinese drywall and other hazardous materials could result when removing contaminated structure.
Certification, training, demonstrated experience, avant-garde technologies and established safety protocols are essential to ensure a bio recovery and decontamination operation is completed safely, successfully and in accordance with regulations and established certification standards.
Non-certified, unlicensed and uninsured companies are popping up around Florida. Hiring the wrong company can lead to liability exposures associated to mishandling the operation and recovered biohazard materials, additional damage to content and structure, exposure to pathogens and spores that were not properly eradicated, insufficient and or subpar documentation to support an insurance claim, property liens, theft…
Performing due-diligence is very important in finding a reputable biohazard cleanup company. Internet search tools can be an invaluable to research companies. In some cases, entire websites are dedicated to companies that have engaged in unsavory practices. Contact the Better Business Bureau. Ask for references. Perform background checks. Review public court records in the city the company is based.
Advanced BioRecovery Solutions has developed a brochure to assist Clientele in selecting a reputable bio recovery company. Click on the links below to view and download the brochure.
- The biohazard cleanup company I have selected does not have insurance. Is insurance important?
- Biohazard remediation is an intrinsically dangerous undertaking.
General Liability Insurance
This liability policy protects your home, income property or business in the event the biorecovery company, their employees or the sub-contractors they hire are negligent, cause bodily injury or inflict damage to your property. A one million / two million dollar General Liability policy is the standard coverage for this industry.
Professional Liability Insurance (Errors and Omissions)
Biorecovery companies often have a misguided interpretation between General Lability (GL) and Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance coverage, creating a liability for Client and Company.
Many biorecovery companies assume GL will cover their craft. This is a dangerous misunderstanding of liability policies that can create significant exposure for the Client.
A GL policy provides two types of coverage, property damage and bodily injury that may have occurred, the result of the biorecovery company’s operations or products. Some common GL claims include incidents like when someone gets hurt because they tripped over your equipment or when the biorecovery company’s operation activities causes a fire or flood resulting in property damage.
An Professional Liability policy covers liability claims pertaining to services provided by the biorecovery company. It also covers damages to a third party resulting from the damage, loss, or corruption of intangible property like data. Lastly, Technology E&O covers the loss of usefulness of a tangible property that is not at all physically damaged by your product or services.
To clear up all the confusion surrounding these two types of insurance, here is an in-depth explanation of general liability insurance and errors and omissions insurance and the differences between the two.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Hiring anyone to work in your home or business without Workers’ Compensation is a recipe for financial disaster. Biohazard remediation is a high-risk occupation. Workplace injuries can and do occur if biorecovery and decontamination operations are not properly executed and managed. If a worker is injured on your property, it is you, the property owner, who can be held liable for medical costs unless the employee is covered by Workers’ Compensation. Where risk of workplace injury is high, as in the case with biohazard remediation, biorecovery companies must provide proof of Workers’ Compensation coverage. Be cautious of companies who state that they are exempt from carrying Workers’ Compensation coverage. To learn more about Workers’ Compensation, click http://www.myfloridacfo.com/division/wc/Employer/coverage.htm.
A Business Service Bond protects you against fraudulent or dishonest acts committed by any employee of the biorecovery company. A $100,000.00 bond is standard for this industry. A company applying for a Surety Bond is thoroughly vetted before the bond is issued.
Insurance coverage is imperative in protecting you and your property. Ask as the company for Certificates of Insurance (COI). Call the phone numbers on the COIs and confirm the policies are in effect. Ask the company to contact their insurance companies and list you as a Certificate Holder on the COI. It is a red flag if the company cannot provide their COIs. Beware of company’s who state they are exempt from Workers’ Compensation. Employees who are hurt while working at your property can seek damages from their employer and the Client.
Advanced BioRecovery Solutions carries General Liability Insurance, Professional Liability Insurance, Pollution Insurance, Workers’ Compensation Insurance and is Bonded. In operation for nine years, Advanced BioRecovery Solutions has a perfect loss run history, e.g. no claims, lawsuits or injuries.
- Can my maintenance staff clean up blood and other biohazards? Do my operating costs and exposure to liability increase if I assign biohazard cleanup duties to my employees?
- While ABS employs vanguard technologies and training to protect its employees from harm, biohazard and HAZMAT decontamination work is an intrinsically dangerous occupation with known and unknown associated hazards. Exposure to HIV, EVD, HEP A, HEP B, HEP C, Tetanus, C. Diff, MRSA, COVID, TB and other dangerous or lethal pathogens could occur. Restrictive PPE, powered and non-powered tools, Sharps, knives, razors, chemicals (used to clean, disinfectant and decontaminate) and ladders are employed. Workplace and environmental hazards are to be expected when conducting a biohazard cleanup operation. Often overlooked by employers, employees can suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), an unfortunate illness resulting from the emotional trauma experienced during and after a biohazard cleanup operation.
Federal Regulation 29CFR1910.1030 of OSHA states that no employee can be placed in a position to be exposed to bio hazardous waste without first:
• Receiving blood-borne pathogen (BBP) training.
• Having reviewed an employer’s written BBP exposure control plan.
• Having been provided with personal protective equipment (PPE).
• Having been offered the Hepatitis B vaccine and exposure evaluation with a follow-up.
• Being provided with a method to properly dispose of and store the biohazard waste in properly marked containers at an approved site.
Exposure to employee lawsuits increases exponentially if an employer fails to meet the aforementioned standards. In addition, an OSHA investigation may ensue, resulting in monetary penalties.
Additional training, equipment, PPE, storage and disposal costs may adversely affect the company’s bottom-line operating expenses. Companies may also inadvertently subject themselves to higher general liability insurance premiums.
Employees, who are not properly trained in biohazard and HAZMAT cleanup operations, could overlook or misunderstand critical planning, implementation, recovery, disinfecting, transport and disposal steps resulting in increased exposure risks to themselves, others and /or the community. Biohazard and HAZMAT cleanup can be mentally and physically taxing. An untrained employee may be ill equipped to cope with the challenges presented, leading to increased company liability.
- Does the State of Florida regulate biohazard material (waste) generated through the cleanup of a compromised property, e.g. late discovery (decomposition), suicide, trauma, homicide? Does the State of Florida regulate the transport and disposal of biohazard materials (waste) generated at a compromised property?
- Yes, the Florida Department of Health has a Biomedical Waste Program, Chapter 64E-16, F.A.C, which specifically regulates the generation and transport of biomedical waste (biohazards).
- How am I affected if the bio recovery company I select is not certified in biohazard recovery and legally permitted to transport biohazard waste?
- Bio recovery is an emerging and developing industry. Individuals and companies requiring bio recovery services should exercise caution when selecting a bio recovery company to handle their decontamination and restoration needs. Bio recovery firms must comply with federal, state and local environmental regulations regarding the disposal of biohazard waste.
Many companies are undertrained, ill-trained or have never been trained in bio recovery. Far more have not obtained the proper permits to generate and transport bio recovery waste. These companies lack the knowledge and skillsets to safely clean, disinfect and decontaminate sites exposed to hazardous waste, placing their employees, the site occupants and the community at risk.
Choosing a bio recovery company that is ABRA and NIDS certified ensures that the company selected is properly trained and has the mechanisms in place to comply with State and Federal regulations and industry standards governing the cleanup, transport and disposal of biohazard materials.
Advanced BioRecovery Solutions, an ABRA and NIDS certified company, exercises strict procedures and protocols to ensure proper cleanup and disposal of biohazard waste. We place client, employee and community safety at the forefront of this complex and involved recovery and disposal process.
ABS Bio Recovery Technicians are certified in cleanup, decontamination, restoration, transport and disposal procedures. These certifications include: First Aid and CPR, Blood Borne Pathogen, HAZWOPER, ABRA, NIDS, and IICRC. ABS Technicians receive annual, biennial and triennial training in State and Federal regulations, ABS protocols and procedures, equipment and chemical applications and cutting edge bio recovery technologies and techniques.
The State of Florida requires all bio recovery companies register with the state and pass stringent inspections to meet strict standards governing the generation and transportation of biohazardous waste. A company or individual who uses a bio recovery company that is not properly permitted and/or who mishandles biohazard waste generated at a property could be exposed to liability. Always ask for copies of the bio recovery company’s Florida Department of Health Permits and the Disposal Manifest issued by the licensed biomedical waste processing plant post-processing.
- Am I living in a meth-contaminated home? Am I driving a meth-contaminated vehicle? Can I be harmed by meth contamination?
- Meth use, with its high addiction rate (37%), continues to dominate illegal drug use in the US. Adults using meth can expect to live no more than five years at that point addiction occurs.
Exposure to VOCs may cause symptoms such as nose and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion and breathing difficulties. Benzene, a potential meth chemical, is a VOC known to cause cancer.
Chemicals that are acids or bases will cause a burning sensation on the skin and in mucous membranes, and can cause severe eye damage. Exposure to hazardous metals and salts can cause a wide range of health effects including respiratory irritation, decreased mental function, anemia, kidney damage and birth defects. Meth affects the central nervous system and will increase heart rate and blood pressure.
Children, in comparison to adults, are far more vulnerable to these toxic byproducts. Children living in a meth-contaminated house can encounter lingering health problems. Exposure to meth residues may cause symptoms similar to those experienced by meth users. These residues may be fatal to young children. See Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment Report – Children’s Risk Assessment
With societal use on the rise, the risk of finding oneself coming in contact with meth contamination is likely, e.g. apartment, house, office building, vehicle. Contamination can occur through the meth manufacturing process (meth cook labs) or individual use. For every pound of meth manufactured, five to six pounds of highly toxic waste byproducts are produced.
There are many different chemical ‘recipes’ for the manufacturing of meth. More than thirty chemicals are used and most are explosive, caustic and carcinogenic. These chemicals include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), household chemicals and other hazardous materials.
Fumes from meth labs, the chemical waste, and meth use are toxic, resulting in illness and/or death. Moreover, cookers often dump their chemicals into the ground, sewers, or septic systems, contaminating the ground, water, and wells, and placing the community at risk for exposure. Meth contamination can affect air quality, furniture, and structure materials, such as flooring, vents, and walls.
Advanced BioRecovery Solutions utilizes avant guard decontamination technologies to neutralize meth contamination efficiently and effectively. With these state-of-the-art technologies employed, labor costs and timeframes to complete decontamination are significantly reduced.
- Does Advanced BioRecovery Solutions service the entire State of Florida?
- Advanced BioRecovery Solutions is licensed, insured and bonded to perform biohazard and HAZMAT remediation services state-wide. ABS operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. ABS Rapid Response Teams can deploy minutes after receiving a call.
- Can rugs, bedding, drapery, and other porous items exposed to blood, bodily fluid and other potentially infections materials (OPIM) be cleaned and disinfected?
- Rugs, bedding, drapery and other porous and absorbent items are made of permeable materials. Fluid absorption rates, contaminate release factors, irregularity in surfaces and mass can compromise the success of a decontamination procedure. Textures, seams and permeability support microbial and biofilm activity by providing a perfect place to attach or harbor, where they can’t be reached during the disinfection process
OSHA does not have any evidence to support whether decontamination of plush carpets, rugs, drapery, bedding, clothing or other porous and absorbent materials exposed to blood, bodily fluids and OPIMs, is possible. Additionally, because disinfectants are not registered by the EPA to be used on porous and absorbent materials, these materials cannot be disinfected with any measure of reliable efficacy. Furthermore, disinfectant-related materials compatibility issues could damage items during the disinfection process.
Based on these risk factors, it is Advanced BioRecovery Solutions’ professional opinion that compromised porous and absorbent items should be discarded as regulated biohazard waste.
In the event Clients opt to have Advanced BioRecovery Solutions clean and sanitize compromised porous and absorbent items (e.g. keepsakes, high-value rugs, designer clothing, upholstery, etc.), ABS will assist in determining decontamination feasibility and best practice strategies to offer solutions with greatest success rates in sanitizing these materials.
Clients are required to review and sign a Porous and Absorbent Materials Notice, outlining risks and concern associated to sanitizing porous items.
- Does your company offer services to process my property insurance claim for me?
- Advanced BioRecovery Solutions provides insurance claims processing advice, assistance, and in many cases, complimentary litigation services to its Clientele. Our knowledgeable team can aid clients in navigating the complex and involved property insurance filing process, providing expertise where needed. If desired, ABS will handle the entire process at no additional charge to the client.
ABS has successfully filed and processed client claims with Allstate, Avatar, Castle Hill, Citizens, Florida Fidelity, Hartford, Heacock, Homeowner’s Choice, Lloyd’s of London, NA Risk, Olympus, Prepared, Pure, Southern Fidelity, State Farm, Tower Hill, Travelers, UIHNA, Universal, USAA, Florida Peninsula, Liberty Mutual, Chubb and other insurers. Do not be concerned if your Insurer is not listed. As a leader in biorecovery and decontamination services, the list of insurers interested in collaborating with ABS continues to grow.
An experienced biorecovery company will be able to successfully navigate the complex insurance claims processing system to ensure you receive maximum compensation for a covered loss. Poor photo journaling, incomplete or inadequate documentation and use of incorrect language / terminology to describe, in writing, the biohazard incident the scope of damage and the biorecovery and decontamination operation could compromise your claim.
Advanced BioRecovery Solutions’ guarantee is boldly etched in every service it offers. Confidence in our services emanate from the vanguard technologies utilized, proven remediation methodologies applied and the professional biorecovery technicians ABS employs. ABS will issue a Certificate of Occupancy at the completion of the biorecovery and decontamination operation.