Dangers of Blood and Death Odors
I have over 14 years cleaning up human blood from traumatic injuries caused by homicide, suicide, and accidental deaths. Included in these types of cleaning task bar decomposition cleanup in traumatic injuries causing loss of limbs.
Dangers from Odors
To my knowledge and experience from cleaning show that odors cause no dangers to human beings. If there are dangers they arise from the nausea created by decomposing blood and death. The nausea becomes a risk factor because it could spoil one's lunch.
Losing one's lunch by regurgitating from the stench and stink of blood and death odors is a far cry from contracting an infectious disease. So, if somebody from a crime scene cleanup company tells you that odors are dangerous, they are lying to you.
If blood and death odors from suicides were dangerous, then I would not be here to write these words. Also, pathologist would be dead. Morticians would be dead. And of course the great pharaohs of ancient Egypt would have lost their priests to death odors. What else can I say then this, "Suicide cleanup orders are not dangerous."
In some places I write about "order reduction" because suicides often turn into decomposition cleanups. Odors then permeate entire homes. This is because a suicidal person may die alone and unnoticed for some time. During this time the human body decomposes and releases gases and fluids as it does decompose. The body often balotes during decomposition and may burst in places. Fluids flung about carry their own odors. Thus, signature decomposition odors leave little doubt of a death.
As a result of this decomposing process fluids leaking to the floor, to fabrics, or to furniture spread the odor causing source material. Mattresses, for one, becomes soiled and soaked at times. Mattresses with heavy cotton or foam contents become soaked. These bulky materials become a project for landfill qualification. We cannot simply dump this bulk source material into waste cans.
Blood in a mattress will remain moist for a long period of time in a closed and unventilated room. As such it is a biohazard. These biohazards must be removed carefully so as not to injure suicide cleanup practitioners. Meanwhile, odors may be strong and continue to permeate cellular contents within a room. The goal of biohazard cleanup is to clean for the toddler because of their propensity to crawl on floors while placing their hands in their mouths.
What type of cellular structures may be permeated by suicide odors?
Man-made cellular structures like those found in carpet padding, mattress fillings, manufactured fabrics for furniture and clothing, and even paper will hold death and blood odors from human decomposition.
Naturally constructed cellular structures also become permeated by blood and death odors. These include clothing containing cotton, wood, and other cellular materials created by nature. One will recall the odor of freshly cut grass on a warm summer day, which becomes quite fragrant when piled and then moved about on the following day. Organic molecules from the decaying material evaporates. The nose knows these odors from years of experience. It is no different with cellular contents found in blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM).
As a result of their cellular structures, we often find that suicide cleanup odors will permeate a bedroom or living room within a day or two depending upon temperature, humidity, size of the decedent, and even a suicide victim's diet. Red wine for one example, used on a regular basis, leaves a terribly, wrenching odor from fluids draining from a cadaver. On the other hand, a suicide victim living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle leaves less odor.
Suicide cleanup does not remove all of blood and death odors. Perhaps at times we cannot remove odors for some of the above reasons; deaths odor permeate cellular structures depending on how tightly a room is close, how long decomposition went on, and how much ventilation a room has received.
Of course the temperature of a room has a lot to do with odor permeation. For example, during a suicide cleanup in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, during a hot summer day. I helped a family with a suicide cleanup, but there was little I could do with the remaining odors. The suicide victim had died an unattended death and then decomposed for two weeks. During this time Louisiana's temperatures had risen into the mid-nineties during the day. Humidity was very high. The home had poor ventilation.
From the suicide victim's bedroom odors made their way across this four bedroom house and even into kitchen cabinets, which were made of a composite woods. It happens that a composite wood may easily aborb odors.
Without using an ozone machine there was little help of recovering the pre-incident odor of this home. Fortunately I had a large industrial ozone machine and removed most of the perceivable odors. Had I not had an ozone machine, all that I could've done for this family was recommend something like the following:
- Ventilate the house heavily doors and windows remaining open as long as possible with issues in mind.
- Remove all carpeting carpet padding.
- Remove furnishings.
- Remove clothing.
- Seal walls and ceilings and kitchen cabinets with a sealer such as a paint primer like Zinnsseer B-I-N.
Furnishings and clothings may be left in a backyard while cleaning goes on. Wash clothing to restore to pre-incident condition. Furnishings can be cleaned professionally or by a family using a garden hose and wet-dry VAC so long as temperature, sun, and heavy ventilation is used to dry out these materials. Of course, a wet-dry VAC will allow for maximum vacuum power to remove whatever moisture can possibly be removed.
Working at these actions supposes that the homeowners wish to return their home to its original condition as quickly as possible. Otherwise, in states like Louisiana an ozone machine would be the best choice.
On another occasion I performed a suicide cleanup in during a freeze in Michigan. The suicide victim had left a window open out of consideration for his family. He had left the heat off in the room, and the room had nearly turned to a freezing condition. Although decomposition did occur as temperatures rose on some of the days he laid upon his bed, the overall low temperatures slowed decomposition greatly. As a result, odors permeated the area surrounding the cadaver, but did little to permeate rooms throughout the rest of his home. In this case my suicide cleanup work removed most related odors.
The odors of blood and death are relative to the nose as I mentioned elsewhere. If a suicide cleanup fails to remove all blood and other potentially infectious materials, odors will continue as before, but perhaps not as strong. It takes only a small amount of human tissue to create a large amount of nauseating odors. Cerebral fluid is often best by amateurs in the suicide cleanup business. This is because cerebral fluid is translucent and sticks mightily to nonporous surfaces.
The six-year-old test
To truly test a suicide cleanup requires the use of a virgin nose. What is a "virgin nose"?
I like to think of a six-year-old child who has not been exposed to death or the wholesale slaughter found in a butcher shop as a "virgin nose." Children have newer olfactory nerves and less experience when offensive odors. They are quick to pick up the odor of "poop," but may not know others. Odors that we deal with during suicide cleanup will for certain peak a six-year-old's olfactory nerves upon initial perception.
The only way to tell if your suicide cleanup removed most of the defending odors is to test with a fresh nose. This is because one becomes rather used to death odors when they do suicide cleanup for a living. As a result, a trained biohazard cleanup practitioner does not have a reliable nose when it comes to perceiving decomposition odors from a human death.
It is true that a biohazard cleaner's nose readajusts to death odors once outside of the cleaning environment. About 20 minutes helps to refresh the olfactory nerves. Walking back into the cleaning environment gives the biohazard cleanup practitioner a new opportunity to adjust their understanding of odor conditions.
Often times family members will complain about odors when there are no odors. These are what I call "Phantom odors." These are Phantom odors because family members perceive nothing, but their minds tell them there's something. Then again, family members they actually perceive familiar odors and mistake them for the odors of a decomposing body.
Orders involve a suicide cleanup include methane, uric acid, and other odors. Fecal matter alone joins in the fluid release. Decaying bacteria soon release tens of millionis of dead and dying bacteria. Some bacteria begin feeding upon these bacteria, and in turn create their own by products and release even more offensive gas. Fecal matter contains well over 6000 on viruses, while bacteria counts remained unknown for each individual. In fact, stomach bacteria in one individual may be unique to that individual for a short period of time. As a result, fecal matter carries an untold number of odors combining in unknown ways. Olfactory nerves identify these odors together as one. One size fits all in our weakened olfactory apparatus.
Eddie Evans, biohazard cleanup
copyright 2003 eddie evans