Health Hazard with Flood Vehicles

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Health Hazard with Flood Vehicles

Post by j-ainc » March 1st, 2006, 6:53 pm

It's long but worth the info!

Health alert issued over Hurricane Zone vehicles
Feb 28, 2006
By: James E. Guyette
Aftermarket Business

A nationwide alert has been issued to emergency personnel emphasizing the risk of fatally infected cuts inflicted by ?flood cars? from the Hurricane Zone, and distributors and jobbers should warn their professional customers about the possible danger.

The warning needs to go out to the automotive industry because of all of the vehicles that were contaminated in the New Orleans area that are now spread across the country,? says Todd Hoffman, executive director of
Scene of the Accident, Inc., based in Missouri City, Texas.

The floodwaters that inundated The Big Easy tested at 50-times above the danger level for this type of toxin, which enters the bloodstream.
Called sepsis, it spreads rapidly from just the tiniest break in the skin.

The government is crushing all of the vehicles, so they say, but any
vehicle looked at prior to Dec. 6 was sent to auction, says Hoffman.
The vehicles that the owners were allowed to retain are all over the
country, and all of the uninsured vehicles are for sale everywhere.

Technicians need to wear gloves and otherwise protect themselves at all times, he urges, calling for long sleeve shirts, long pants, gloves and safety shoes. NOT shorts, tank tops and tennis shoes.

If an employee gets a cut or even the smallest scratch, the wound needs to be immediately disinfected and a bandage applied, Hoffman advises.

Soap and water will not kill the bacteria,? he points out. It will take a strong antiseptic cleaner.

If there is redness or swelling, or a rash or back pain, technicians should get to the doctor and demand a blood test. The illness is frequently under-diagnosed because it has symptoms similar to a multitude of other ailments.

A deadly illness

Sepsis can develop quickly. The sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the better. A Mississippi firefighter recently died from septic shock contracted through a slightly scratched finger suffered while extricating a victim from a crashed car.

Every minute, more than two people die from severe sepsis in the United States, according to Dr. Jean-Louis Vincent of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. It is the leading cause of death in hospital intensive care units, claiming ?more lives than breast, colon/rectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer combined. And, the numbers are getting worse, he says. When someone dies of complications from cancer or pneumonia, it is more than likely caused by severe sepsis.

Once inflicted, the death rate from sepsis is 40 percent in healthy adults. In younger children and older adults, the probability of dying rises to 80 percent.

Sepsis is the bodys response to an infection. Patients developing sepsis progress from ill to seriously ill, onto organ dysfunction and failure called severe sepsis and then to septic shock, Vincent explains. Because early treatment is crucial, the faster you are diagnosed, the better your chances of making a full recovery are.

The symptoms of sepsis can include:

* Fever and shaking chills
* Reduced mental alertness, sometimes with confusion
* Nausea and vomiting
* Diarrhea in the presence of infection
* Sometimes hypotension
* Sometimes altered kidney or liver function

The normal symptoms of an infection should not last longer than five days, and a fever should be no higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Vincent. If the fever exceeds 103 degrees with chills, confusion or difficulty breathing, the patient should be taken to the
hospital immediately.

Spotting potential risks

According to Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR), shop employees need to exercise considerable caution when inspecting or repairing vehicles that may have originated in the Hurricane Zone.
Advice is available free for downloading at

The floodwaters were loaded with toxins, such as raw sewage (and E coli), petrochemicals, human and animal remains, hexavalent chromium,
arsenic and lead.

If the waters from New Orleans were poured into a bucket and shipped elsewhere, it would have been labeled as a biologically hazardous material, observes CCARs Bob Stewart.

It is crucial to communicate the risks and preventative methods to shop owners and technicians, who in-turn should don rubber gloves and other suitable protective wear. Employees should report any injury, no matter
how slight.

Each vehicle can potentially carry an extraordinary amount of harmful residue,? Stewart cautions.

Flooded vehicles do contain clues to their soggy past, and shops conducting repairs or offering pre-purchase inspections for their customers should follow several steps:

* A title search of the vehicle identification number (VIN) is a good first step.
* Along the body, look at seams and around the edges of windows for a high-water mark or specks of dried mud. Water stains; mildew, sand or silt can be seen or smelled under
* Carpeting and upholstery can be vigorously shampooed, but a hot day will bring back the musty smell.
* Carpeting and upholstery should last for many years in any given car; it may be a warning sign if it has been replaced. Technicians should check to see that it fits properly and shows a true color match.
* Even the best detailer can?t get all of the mud from behind the dash without damaging fragile wiring or other sensitive components.
* You can never really get all the moisture out of an engine, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which suggests looking under the hood for signs of oxidation. Pull back rubber boots around electrical and mechanical connections to search for rusting ferrous
materials, copper parts with a green patina, plus aluminum and alloys displaying pitting or a white power.
* Check the oil and other fluids for cloudiness indicating water contamination.
* Have techs inspect for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays along with hints of rust or flaking metal
along the undercarriage that you wouldn't expect in a later-model vehicle.
* See if all the switches and gauges are functioning properly.
* Try out the heater and air-conditioner, turning them off and on several times. Look inside the vents for evidence of mud or water. Also activate the lights, wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter and radio. Mud, silt or grit residue can be discovered in the trunk, spare-tire well and in headlamp and tail lamp housings.
* Look for rust on screws in the console, glove box, interior body panels or any other area moisture wouldnt normally breach unless the car had been immersed in water, such as under the seats or inside the glove box.

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Post by Doc » March 1st, 2006, 8:28 pm

J-ainc, that is a good article, Thanks for sharing it with us.

I have stickied it up top..
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Post by j-ainc » March 2nd, 2006, 12:36 pm

Thanks Doc, It may not be as serious as it sounds! But it is definately worth a heads up!

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