HPAC Magazine

Addressing concerns about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other disease transmission through wastewater

April 14, 2020 | By General Pipe Cleaners

With the current world health situation, many contractors have asked us if they should be concerned about disease transmission – particularly COVID-19 – through wastewater?

People have been increasingly – and understandably – anxious about the transmission of Coronavirus, HIV, hepatitis, tetanus, dysentery, and other diseases through wastewater.

Plumbers, drain cleaning specialists and maintenance personnel face health risks like these every day. What’s the likelihood? And how can you protect yourself?

Commonsense precautions remain your everyday defense against disease.

If you wear rubber gloves while snaking lines, always wear protective leather gloves over them. Rubber gloves can tear in the spinning coils of cables, exposing hands to infection and injury.

After completing jobs, thoroughly wash your hands. And never touch your face when dealing with waste.

Disease germs can also remain on surfaces. Pack towels and wipes to grab door and drawer handles. And regularly clean and disinfect tools and garments.

Health care workers, for instance, use a solution of one part chlorine bleach to twenty parts (1:20) water to treat blood on clothing. Your uniform can be cleaned in this way.

The CDC recommends a solution of 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) of bleach to one gallon of water to disinfect hard surfaces. Let the solution sit on the surface for at least a minute. Use this solution to disinfect your drain cleaning cables and machinery after each use. Be careful to never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.

As for other concerns, a study on HIV and blood-borne pathogens for the Wastewater Industry concludes, “It appears unlikely that transmission of HIV could occur in a wastewater treatment setting.”

Additionally, OSHA requires employers of health care workers to have their employees inoculated for Hepatitis B. A number of large plumbing contractors are already doing the same for their employees. Building maintenance personnel should consider this, as well.

Again, drain cleaning can be done safely and without undue concern. Just use common sense!

For more information, or to ask a question, call the Drain Brains at General Pipe Cleaners at 800-245-6200.



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