WHAT IS MEANT BY CLEAN?
The cleaning process includes locating, identifying, containing, removing and properly disposing of unwanted substances from an environment or material. An area is considered ‘clean’ when contaminants, pollutants and undesired substances have been removed from an environment or surface, thereby reducing damage or harm to human health or materials.
WHEN IS A BUILDING CONSIDERED TO BE DRY?
Ideally, a building or its contents should be returned to the condition that existed prior to the incident. In cases where the structure was previously suffering from damp it will be up to a loss adjuster, insurer or competent professional to determine what is an acceptable recovery level.
A building, its materials or contents are considered to be ‘dry’ when the moisture content of building components, and water absorbing contents, achieve ‘equilibrium’ within a normal healthy indoor relative humidity and room temperature environment. In other words, the equilibrium moisture content is sufficiently low to prevent active growth of fungal spores and any further moisture damage to the property or its contents.
A competent organisation will know when drying operations should cease. This would normally be when they are satisfied that:
- The internal conditions are at, or better than, normal room conditions.
- The moisture on and in the building materials themselves will not support active growth of mould and mildew.
- The building materials and contents will finish returning to equilibrium within normal room conditions by themselves, without suffering further damage.
While individuals have different perceptions of smells and what is unacceptable, odour can often be an indication of potential risks to human health. Where possible the source of any odour should be removed, the area cleaned and sanitised and, in extreme circumstances, sealed.
Overlaying odour with fragrances or masking of bad odour is not acceptable and is potentially dangerous. If odour reoccurs after professional cleaning it is usually due to poor decontamination or other processes.
Sanitary conditions exist in an environment that supports the natural balance of life, as opposed to sterile conditions which require a laboratory environment. Where there is a high level of micro-organisms these should be reduced to a level which can be demonstrated to be safe, or at least equivalent to pre-existing conditions. Sanitation will normally involve procedures for removing the source of the problem, followed by thorough cleaning and the application of a sanitising agent.
RECOVERY TECHNICIANS WILL NOT GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE
However, it is their responsibility to alert clients to potential health threats from the contamination or possible short-term side effects of the sanitising process. They should enquire and make note of anyone whose immune system may be deficient or compromised, such as the elderly, young children and those with respiratory or other health problems, advising them of the risks. Anyone who is at all concerned should consult their GP.