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Dangers of Raw Sewage

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Dangers of Raw Sewage

Aside from being generally unpleasant, raw sewage can pose a significant threat to the lives of humans. In this article, we are going to look at the diseases that can be caused by exposure to raw sewage.




Salmonella can survive outside a host, which means it is one of the most dangerous types of bacteria that inhabit raw sewage. Salmonella can cause an array of different and potentially fatal diseases, including gastroenteritis, typhoid and paratyphoid fever.


E. coli

Escherichia coli, to give it its full name, is commonly found in sewage. It is associated with food poisoning, but E. coli can be fatal to humans. If sewage comes into contact with drinking water or food preparation, it can easily infect people. 



Norovirus is very common around winter; so much so that it is sometimes called the winter vomiting bug. The virus is found in sewage, and it commonly results in stomach issues. It can be fatal to elderly people. 



Listeria normally causes mild symptoms in adults, but it can be fatal to others. The listeria bacteria can cause an infection called listeriosis, and this can kill people with weak immune systems like the elderly, or those with cancer or AIDS. Listeriosis can lead to meningitis and septicaemia, which can also be fatal. 



Adenovirus can cause a number of respiratory issues, including pneumonia, which can be fatal to babies. It is a very common cause of these issues, and it can also cause conjunctivitis if it comes into contact with eyes.

It’s rare that we come into contact with raw sewage at home or at work, and that’s thanks to the incredible sewer system and wastewater treatment plants and the people who make them tick. Let’s have a look at the stages necessary to turn our wastewater back into our rivers and streams.


The sewage process

When we flush our toilets or drain the sink, the wastewater travels through our drains into a sewage pipe or a septic tank. The sewage pipe transports the wastewater to a treatment plant, where it is cleaned and filtered before being transported into rivers.


Any large objects in the wastewater are removed so they don’t damage pipes or structures. Items that aren’t meant for drains are removed, too – things like nappies and sanitary items.


Primary treatment

Human waste is then separated from the wastewater in things called settlement tanks. Once separated, the waste is pumped away for treatment, and the water moves on to the next stage of the cleaning process. 


Secondary treatment

By this point, all visible waste has been removed, but invisible bugs and other matter often remains, so this must be eliminated. ‘Aeration lanes’ are used to pump air into the water, which facilitates the good bacteria eating the bugs. 


Final treatment

The treated water goes through another settlement tank, and the good bacteria sink to the bottom of said tank. The clean water continues through the plant, where it will receive additional treatment if it is being transported to a sensitive river. Before it gets to the river, it passes through a bed of sand which catches any remaining impurities. 


Returned to the river

After the treatment, the water is put back in rivers and streams. The quality of water is monitored by the Environment Agency.


Exposure to raw sewage can be unpleasant at best and fatal at worst. It’s crucial that sewers and pipes are in full working order to minimise the risk of sewage leaks, backlogs and therefore exposure to the dangers of raw sewage. 1st Call Drain Clearance offer comprehensive sewer and drain pressure jetting and drainage surveys to ensure your systems are safe. For more information about our services across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex and London, contact us today. 



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