Waters Categories

Waters Categories and health problems

All waters could have potential health problems. Water is the most single leading cause of pathogenic disease in the world. Waters’ potential health problems should never be underestimated. Bio pollutants are the biggest indoors problem due to their humid environment. Water damage is divided into three general categories:


– Category 1: Clean Water
– Category 2: Gray Water
– Category 3: Black Water

The Category of water contamination is not by color of water, but it is by source, contents, history and characteristics of water contaminant.

Category 1

Clean Water, originates from a source that does not pose substantial harm to humans. for example, clean water source could be broken water supply lines, tub or sink overflow with no contaminates, appliance malfunctions involving water supply lines, melting ice or snow, falling rain water, broken toilet tanks and toilet bowls that do not contain contaminants or additives.

Clean water that has contact with structural surface and content materials may deteriorates in cleanliness as it dissolves or mixes with soils and other contaminants as time elapses.


Category 2

Gray water contains a significant level of contamination and has the potential to cause discomfort or sickness if consumed by or expose to humans. Gray water carries microorganisms and nutrients for microorganisms. Gray water sources may include, but not necessarily limited to, discharge from dishwasher or overflow from washing machines, overflow from toilet bowls with some urine ( no Feces), sum pump failures, seepage due to hydrostatic pressure, broken                                                                                                                                                      

aquariums and punctured water beds. Gray water may contain chemicals, bio-contaminants (fungal, bacterial, viral, algae) and other forms of contamination including physical hazards.


Category 3

Black water, contains pathogenic agents and is grossly unsanitary. Black water includes sewage and other contaminated water source entering or affecting indoor environment. Toilet backflows that originate from beyond the toilet trap is considered black water contamination regardless of visible content or color.

Category 3 water includes all forms of flooding from seawater, ground surface water and rising water from rivers or streams. Such a water source carry silt and organic matter into structures that creates black water conditions.

The water is considered to be Category 3 water in situations where structural materials and /or contents have been contaminated with such contaminants as pesticides, heavy metals, or toxic substances.


The following may be helpful in judging the potential for health concerns is a water restoration situation:

Sanitary Water + Sanitary Surface= Wet Sanitary Environment
Sanitary Water + Sanitary Surface + Time= Unsanitary Surface
Sanitary Water + Unsanitary Surface = Unsanitary Surface
Sanitary Water + Unsanitary Surface + Time= Unsanitary Environment
Unsanitary Water+ Sanitary Surface = Unsanitary Environment

Any person with compromised immune systems, respiratory or allergies, or who are under 2 years must remain off the job site where there is black water situation, until the area is safe for living.       

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