Emergency Preparedness and Response

Chemical Emergency Overview

chemical-emergency-prepareThe CDC has a key role in protecting the public’s health in an emergency involving the release of a chemical that could harm people’s health. This page provides information to help people be prepared to protect themselves during and after such an event.

What chemical emergencies are

A chemical emergency occurs when a hazardous chemical has been released and the release has the potential for harming people’s health. Chemical releases can be unintentional, as in the case of an industrial accident, or intentional, as in the case of a terrorist attack.

Where hazardous chemicals come from

Some chemicals that are hazardous have been developed by military organizations for use in warfare. Examples are nerve agents such as sarin and VX, mustards such as sulfur mustards and nitrogen mustards, and choking agents such as phosgene. It might be possible for terrorists to get these chemical warfare agents and use them to harm people.chemical-emergency-warfare-biological-weapons

Many hazardous chemicals are used in industry (for example, chlorine, ammonia, and benzene). Others are found in nature (for example, poisonous plants).

Some could be made from everyday items such as household cleaners. These types of hazardous chemicals also could be obtained and used to harm people, or they could be accidentally released.

Types and categories of hazardous chemicals

Scientists often categorize hazardous chemicals by the type of chemical or by the effects a chemical would have on people exposed to it. The categories/types used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are as follows:

  • Biotoxins—poisons that come from plants or animals
  • Blister agents/vesicants—chemicals that severely blister the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin on contact
  • Blood agents—poisons that affect the body by being absorbed into the blood
  • Caustics (acids)—chemicals that burn or corrode people’s skin, eyes, and mucus membranes (lining of the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs) on contact
  • Choking/lung/pulmonary agents—chemicals that cause severe irritation or swelling of the respiratory tract (lining of the nose and throat, lungs)
  • Incapacitating agents—drugs that make people unable to think clearly or that cause an altered state of consciousness (possibly unconsciousness)
  • Long-acting anticoagulants—poisons that prevent blood from clotting properly, which can lead to uncontrolled bleeding
  • Metals—agents that consist of metallic poisons
  • Nerve agents—highly poisonous chemicals that work by preventing the nervous system from working properly
  • Organic solvents—agents that damage the tissues of living things by dissolving fats and oils
  • Riot control agents/tear gas—highly irritating agents normally used by law enforcement for crowd control or by individuals for protection (for example, mace)
  • Toxic alcohols—poisonous alcohols that can damage the heart, kidneys, and nervous system
  • Vomiting agents—chemicals that cause nausea and vomiting

Hazardous chemicals by name (A-Z list)

If you know the name of a chemical but aren’t sure what category it would be in, you can look for the chemical by name on the A–Z List of Chemical Agents.

Protecting yourself if you don’t know what the chemical is

You could protect yourself during a chemical emergency, even if you didn’t know yet what chemical had been released. For general information on protecting yourself, read this Web site’s fact sheets on evacuation, sheltering in place, and personal cleaning and disposal of contaminated clothing.

Basic information on chemical emergencies

Basic chemical emergency information designed for the public can be found in the general and chemical-specific fact sheets and in the toxicology FAQs on this Web site.

In-depth information on chemical emergencies

Chemical emergency information designed for groups such as first responders, clinicians, laboratorians, and public health practitioners can be found in the case definitions, toxic syndrome descriptions, toxicological profiles, medical management guidelines, emergency response cards, First Responders page, and Laboratory Information page.

For more information…

For more information about chemical emergencies, you can visit the following websites:

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Guide For Crime Scene Biological And Infectious Hazard Clean Up

biohazard-clean-up-remediationProfessional cleaners that deal with trauma clean-up can better market their services by advertising their full compliance with guidelines laid out in the Reference Guide for Trauma and Crime Scene Biological and Infectious Hazard Clean Up. This standard, which can be purchased from the IICRC website, outlines procedures for removing any disease-causing agents that escape into the environment when an individual dies or suffers severe injury.  It also enumerates the many health effects caused by biohazards, necessary equipment professionals require, and the safe transport and disposal of waste materials.


One of the more important points of focus addressed by the standard is that of material and building science
.  Any tissue or bodily fluid is classified as a biohazard per Federal regulations.  Whenever a violent crime occurs within a building, or when a body begins to decompose within its interior, the surrounding building materials become contaminated with a variety of toxic agents.  The Reference Guide for Trauma and Crime Scene Biological and Infectious Hazard Clean Up provides a number of detailed items that cover the removal of these toxins from building materials.  For example, blood stains on the carpet typically soak through the carpet and seep into the flooring beneath.  Effective environmental cleaning not only removes the biohazard from the carpet, but also from its supporting understructure.

Certain tools are required for biohazard removal.  Special equipment, such as protective gear, must also be worn by the removal personnel in order to protect them from the hazardous materials they are using.  It benefits any organization specializing in this type of work to follow the recommended equipment list found in the standard.  Tools that can be reused, along with equipment that is by nature disposable, is clearly defined.  Containers for various types of waste, along with chemicals that help sanitize the environment after cleaning is complete, are also covered in the standard.

The Reference Guide for Trauma and Crime Scene Biological and Infectious Hazard Clean Up also talks about the various health effects associated with different types of incidents.  Diseases such as the Flu, including Type A and H1N1, HIV/AIDS, Type A and B Hepatitis, TB, Cholera, and Salmonella are all diseases that can be transmitted from bodily fluids.  These fluids escape into the environment any time a body decomposes, whether a person commits suicide, is murdered, or suffers some type of tragic, accidental death.

Other aspects of the biohazard removal industry are also covered in the Reference Guide for Trauma and Crime Scene Biological and Infectious Hazard Clean Up.  General safety and health precautions are addressed in the standard.  Administrative procedures that pertain to the execution of various cleanup jobs are also enumerated.  Guidelines for inspection are covered, along with information on when and how to demolish structures that are simply too hazardous to remain standing.  Content removal, transportation, and disposal of contaminants are also covered in the material.

Professionals interested in purchasing the Reference Guide for Trauma and Crime Scene Biological and Infectious Hazard Clean Up can do so online at the IICRC website.  This site also contains information on continuing education, professional certification, and marketing materials that registrants and certified firms can use to solicit their services to their respective communities.

 

Written By: The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)

Back to main topic: Certifications & Brochures

Viral Hepatitis

hepatitis

Young Persons Who Inject Prescription Opioids and Heroin

The recent explosive increase in the misuse of prescription opioids and heroin in this country has sparked growing public recognition and concern. And deservedly so. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are among the numerous health threats facing people who misuse opioids, particularly those who inject these drugs. These blood-borne viral infections have reached epidemic proportions in most states. Persons who become infected with HBV and HCV are at increased risk for other diseases transmitted through contact with blood, such as HIV.

How Viral Hepatitis is Spread Among Persons Who Inject Drugs

The hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses are very infectious. People who have direct contact with surfaces, equipment, or objects contaminated with infected blood, even in amounts too small to see, can become infected. Hepatitis B can survive outside of the body for at least 1 week, and hepatitis C can survive on equipment and surfaces for up to 3 weeks.

People who inject drugs can get hepatitis B or hepatitis C from:

  • Sharing needles or reusing needles and syringes
  • Sharing drug preparation equipment such as cookers, cottons, water, ties, and alcohol swabs
  • Reusing personal-care items (e.g., razors, nail clippers, and toothbrushes) from someone infected with HBV or HCV
  • Sexual contact (particularly for HBV infection)

Hepatitis C Among Persons Who Inject Drugs (PWID)

Cases of HCV have been increasing for several years among PWID. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has investigated and reported outbreaks and alarming increases in disease trends in collaboration with state and local health departments.

  • In 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Health and CDC investigated an epidemic of HCV among adolescents and young adults who were primarily injecting prescription opioids and heroin. In this outbreak, HCV was transmitted through sharing of drug-injection equipment. A report was published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) describing the HCV epidemic.  The investigation of these cases revealed that HCV was spread from sharing equipment to inject drugs, and that HCV infected persons were mostly injecting prescription opioids or heroin.
  • In 2012, an investigation by the Wisconsin Division of Public Health and CDC attributed rising numbers of HCV infections in the state to increasing use of injected prescription opioid drugs and heroin. CDC found that these infections were caused by different strains of the virus, suggesting the patients were infected through separate, unrelated networks of HCV transmission and that additional cases likely remained undetected.
  • In 2014, the national analysis of HCV surveillance data from 2006-2012 revealed an emerging epidemic of HCV infection, primarily among young persons living in small towns and rural areas. Indeed the number of new HCV infections was found to be rising in at least 30 states, with largest increases in nonurban counties east of the Mississippi River, particularly in Appalachian states.
  • In 2014, a CDC analysis of surveillance data revealed that approximately 30,000 new cases of hepatitis C (referred to as “acute” cases) occurred in 2013, representing a nationwide increase of more than 150% from 2010 to 2013; 28 states reported increases.
  • In 2015, HIV spread quickly among PWID in Scott County, Indiana; almost all persons who became infected with HIV had first been infected with HCV. This outbreak was unique, in that networks of HCV transmission within the community were identified using Global Hepatitis Outbreak and Surveillance Technology (GHOST), technology that enables identification of viruses with similar genetic make-up.
  • In 2015, CDC released a report on the increase in new cases of hepatitis C infection in the Appalachian region associated with injection drug use, often among people who first began drug use with prescription opioids. The article, Increases In Hepatitis C Virus Infection Related To Injection Drug Use Among Persons Aged <30 years, reported an estimated 364% increase in new hepatitis C infections during 2006-2012 among persons aged ≤30 years in four Appalachian states (i.e., Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia).

Hepatitis B Among PWID

  • According to CDC estimates, approximately 20,000 new cases of hepatitis B occurred in 2013, representing the first increase in acute cases of hepatitis B since 1990.
  • In 2016, CDC released a report on the increases in new cases of hepatitis B in the Appalachian region.  The report, Increases in Acute Hepatitis B Virus Infections — Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia, 2006–2013, describes a 114% increase in acute hepatitis B from 2006-2013 in three states — Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia; increases primarily occurred after 2009.

Highlights of CDC’s Response to the Epidemic of Viral Hepatitis Associated with Opioid Injection

CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH) is providing the programmatic foundation and leadership for the prevention and control of HBV and HCV infections among PWID. DVH works to improve hepatitis B and hepatitis C prevention by identifying communities at high risk for these infections and increasing testing and linkage to care among persons who inject drugs. Specifically, DVH

  • funds hepatitis coordinators in 48 states and 4 cities who direct local prevention efforts to best meet the needs  of each community;
  • helps communities assess their risks for HBV and HCV transmission, investigate the spread of infection, and prepare a public health response to stop transmission;
  • improves public health surveillance and other sources of critical information to help communities better detect HBV and HCV infected persons and guide delivery of prevention services;
  • studies patterns of HCV transmission, investigates behaviors that increase risk for HCV, and  identifies prevention services (e.g., testing, care, and treatment) that are most effective in stopping disease transmission;
  • trains state/local public health staff in how to guide the delivery of HCV and HBV prevention services in their communities;
  • collaborates with partners to provide technical assistance to prevention programs to identify practices that are most likely to lead to the detection, care, and treatment of viral hepatitis in PWID; and
  • uses a web-based system known as Global Hepatitis Outbreak and Surveillance Technology (GHOST) to improve investigation of HCV infection at the community level.  GHOST allows investigators to determine whether patients are infected with the same strain of HCV, helping uncover patterns and networks of transmission. CDC plans to apply this modern molecular surveillance tool in a growing number of states through a web-based platform that will facilitate effective collaboration and communication across the public health system.

CDC is Committed to Preventing Viral Hepatitis Among PWID

CDC’s DVH recognizes that only through improved prevention (e.g., vaccination, testing, and linkage to viral hepatitis care and treatment) can liver-related morbidity and mortality be prevented in the United States and that PWID are in urgent need for improved access to these services. Although hepatitis B vaccination is over 90% effective in preventing HBV infection, many adults with risks (including PWID) have not been vaccinated. A combination of syringe services programs and drug treatment can reduce transmission of HCV by more than 80% among PWID. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released new guidance[PDF – 22 pages] for state, local, tribal, and territorial health departments that will allow them to request to use federal funds to support syringe services programs. CDC models show that the addition of HCV testing and treatment can increase prevention effectiveness even further.

DVH works closely with CDC colleagues in the Division of HIV/AIDS and the Division of Injury Prevention. Partners outside of CDC include the National Institute on Drug Abuse, state and local health departments, and a variety of non-governmental organizations. Partnerships are essential in marshaling the resources to stop transmission of HBV, HCV, and HIV, and the increases in injection drug use.

Additional CDC Resources:

Stay Informed

  • @cdchep  has the latest information on viral hepatitis.
  • Email updates are available from CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis.

Bloodstain Precautions

Vernon J. Geberth, M.S., M.P.S. author of the textbook, Practical Homicide Investigation: Tactics, Procedures, and Forensic Techniques, FOURTH EDITION, 2006.

UNIVERSAL PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE SERIOUSLY
blood-crime-scene-clean-upInvestigators and crime scene technicians need to be cognizant of the potential dangers in handling blood and other biological fluids in the crime scene. The presence of airborne pathogens and other biohazards such as AIDS, hepatitis and hepatitis B, meningitis and even tuberculosis create a potential risk. Investigators should adhere to the following procedures at any crime scene where blood or body fluids are encountered.

The CSI should wear approved disposable gloves while in the crime scene and remain aware that blood and other body fluids may carry diseases. Consider wearing a disposable mask while in crime scenes where airborne communicable diseases such as meningitis or tuberculosis might exist. Wear eye protective and disposable infectious disease gown to protect clothing when exposed to large amounts of blood or other body fluids.

After the investigation is complete, dispose of gloves, masks, and gowns contaminated by blood or body fluids in a biohazard bag and wash hands thoroughly with an antiseptic hand rinse. Before returning to the station, wash hands again with water and a bacterial liquid hand wash, i.e., Bacti-Stat. Restrict the number of investigators on the scene who may come in contact with the scene of the potential infection exposure. Advise any investigators on the scene who may come in contact with the scene of the potential infection exposure.

Decontaminate all equipment used prior to your return to the station. Change clothing contaminated with blood or other body fluids immediately and decontaminate. Dispose of contaminated supplies as recommended in this protocol. Skin provides a very effective barrier for the prevention of infectious diseases. Wash all contact areas as soon as possible after exposure to help prevent contamination. Wounds such as cuts, sores, and breaks in the skin, regardless of the size, provide an entrance for infection into the body and should be properly bandaged. Report all significant exposures to blood or other body fluids within 24 hours of exposure.

References

Bevel, T and Gardner R., Bloodstain Pattern Analysis with an Introduction to Crime Scene
Reconstruction, 2nd Ed
, Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC Inc., 2002
Gardner, Ross M. Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation. Boca Raton, Florida:
CRC Press, LLC Inc., 2004.
James, Stuart et. al. Principles of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis Theory and Practice, Boca Raton,
FL: Taylor & Francis CRC Press, 2005.

Seattle Crime Scene Cleaners

5 Creepy Things You Learn Cleaning Up The Scene Of A Murder

Carolyn Burke Carolyn Burke  Dale Cillian Dale Cillian  Jayce LeBlanc Jayce LeBlanc  –  August 05, 2015

Let’s say you die in some spectacular way … and then nobody finds your body for a couple of weeks. Who the hell cleans up the gunk that used to be you? The cops aren’t paid to mop up brains, and grieving families aren’t generally equipped to scrub their loved ones out of the carpet. We talked to some biohazard cleaning technicians — folks who handle messes too dangerous or terrifying for mortal maids. Here’s what they told us:

What Counts As Medical Waste Is Surprisingly Arbitrary

Snakebite Productions/Photodisc/Getty

Crime scene cleaners don’t just pull teeth out of walls for a living. Dale Cillian is a biohazard cleaning technician whose duties include “Responding to crime scenes, deaths, accidents, hoarding and extreme cleanup situations.” Similarly, Jayce LeBlanc’s list of assignments is much broader than what you’ll see in a typical CSI episode.

“Our company provided a service, free of charge, for any police station that contacted us. Our job was to sanitize any holding cell or squad car that they may have had someone bleed or vomit in. Some of the other jobs we did were cleaning up ‘hobo camps’ and cleaning up the houses or apartments of hoarders, usually at the request of the family or landlord, and occasionally the county. We also cleaned up after some highly contagious diseases, mostly bloodborne pathogens. Really, any job that was a potential biohazard. A few jobs have been high-profile. It was a new and strange experience to see jobs I was working on in the news.”

BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images“If you saw that room five hours ago, you’d know better than to stand in that spot.”

Apparently, you need a certain stoic sensibility to do these jobs. We’re sure that Magic Marker-ing up Ebola was indeed “a new experience” — though we’d use a few more adjectives to describe it. Likely some profanity, too.

Another possible assignment is medical pickup, in which technicians will retrieve used materials from a hospital or doctor’s office and transport it to a lab for autoclaving. Dale explains:

“There are two different kinds of medical waste disposal. There’s autoclave and there’s incineration. Incinerated waste is generated in a medical facility. When I pick up syringes from a doctor’s office, that’s for autoclave, which means they’ll high-pressure steam it. Syringes may contain diseases like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). A tissue sample, a speck on a glass slide you can barely see that’s 20 years old, would have to be incinerated. That’s medical waste. But a motorcycle accident doesn’t count as medical waste. I can pick up a victim’s brains, and that’s not considered medical waste because it’s not generated in a medical facility.

Jamiga/iStock/Getty ImagesHint hint, “It’s too hot for a helmet” guy.

Exam gloves contaminated with bodily fluids are considered medical waste. You need a permit specifically for medical waste, but you can clean up a crime scene without one. A mattress with a decomposed body on it for two weeks is not medical waste; anyone can clean that without a permit in Arizona.”

Did you hear that, readers? No permits! You can start today! You Can’t Fully Prepare For This Job.

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Whoa, there. Hold on. Maybe you could start today, but as enticing as cleaning up former people might sound, perhaps you should reconsider. Dale frequently receives calls from people interested in busting into the lucrative cleanup business. Problem is, they have no idea of what they are getting themselves into.

“Online training is a joke. It might work for re-certification, but not to get you prepared for anything. Unless you get a face-to-face class, I think you’re asking for trouble. I had a girl who trained online, who really looked into it and really thought she wanted to do it. She went on a motorcycle call, and she didn’t see the body, most of it was cleaned up, but she was done. A lot of people call wanting to get in the business. No offense to women — they can do a lot of what we can do and most really pull their weight — but it gets difficult when you have to move a king-sized mattress soaked with fluids from a third-floor apartment down to ground level with no elevator.”

robroxton/iStock/Getty Images“I’m just gonna push this out the window. Remember to catch with your legs, not your back.”

Jayce described his first assignment, a bloody bathtub suicide:

“Walking into a bathroom and being able to see exactly what happened. Seeing the bloody outline of the razor used … the bathtub filled with blood and splashes of blood on the floor leading from the sink to the tub. You see this stuff on TV, but it doesn’t feel real until you walk into the room and experience it for yourself. We had training and they had set up fake scenes for us to practice our cleaning techniques. But I don’t think anything can fully prepare you for the real thing. Often in crime investigation shows, they will set up a scene and do a walk-through, but never show all the work it takes to actually make a home or hotel room inhabitable again.”

flowersandclassicalmusic/iStock/Getty ImagesSpoiler: It takes more than some Lysol and a Glade candle.

It turns out that this work includes a lot of demolition. There’s no getting back your deposit if you host a horror movie finale in your living room. That place needs to be torn down to the studs, not merely scrubbed out:

“We were required to remove every trace of biohazard. If there was a lot of splatter, we had to get all of it. If it soaked in or dripped down to another floor, we had to cut out the floor and remove the ceiling on the lower floor to be sure we removed every drop.”

saknakorn/iStock/Getty ImagesWhich is especially fun when you get to confirm to the downstairs neighbors that yes, that growing ceiling stain is exactly what they’re worried it is.

Cleanup is further complicated by the fact that decomposed human beings are basically“grease and liquefied fat.” If they saturate a porous surface, that surface has to be removed: “… if they coat even nonporous surfaces, it’s almost impossible to completely remove the odor.”Most “contaminated” materials are destroyed or thrown out. Even money “is taken to a bank where it will be exchanged and then destroyed by the Fed.”

Well, in theory, anyway …

Despite the fact that the federal government will destroy contaminated cash, strangely, not everybody is entirely scrupulous when it comes to burning valuables simply because they’ve got a little human juice on them. Dale says:

“Less-than-honest companies will steal things, like an iTunes card or furniture. They will tell people those items need to be thrown away, and then clean it off and sell it at yard sales or use the iTunes serial number for themselves. People are just cleaning off money and robbing families.”

Goran Milic/iStock/Getty ImagesWhen you start literally laundering money, you need to rethink your life choices.

“I know of many company owners who pad their experience. The company may be in business one year, but go to their website and they say they have been in business 15 years. They hire workers with extensive criminal records, and one owner has three felony convictions for identity theft and credit card fraud. These are the people freely walking around your house.”

Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesWhen there’s still blood drying, not a lot of people are willing to get on Yelp and shop around.

Jayce’s employers had a habit of charging insanely high prices for the work they were doing. In a way, that seems reasonable — whatever you want to charge us for not touching the plague is fine in our book. But in the end, the company’s practices would end up hurting people who were already reeling with emotional trauma.

“The reason I had such a big problem with the rates that they charged was because if the homeowner’s insurance was paying for our service, our price would more than double, and the customer was still held responsible even if the insurance company didn’t cover the whole cost.”

c-George/iStock/Getty Images“So is that cash, credit, or do you want to sign over their life insurance policy?”

Jayce’s company would easily charge $10,000-$20,000 per case.

“While I agree that the service I was providing was one that is incredibly important. I found that the practices of my company and the way they charged were just a bit callous, at best.”

Yeah, actually, we just discovered how much it would cost to get us to scrub up deadly diseases ourselves. It is slightly less than 20 grand.

Suicides Are Expensive, And Happen A Lot

aaronnystrom/iStock/Getty Images

For Jayce, the vast majority of the assignments he received were due to suicide.

“Suicides were the most common death that I cleaned up while on the job. I couldn’t give you an accurate percentage based on hard evidence, but I could give you a rough estimate that about 80 percent of the jobs that I worked were suicides.”

That’s probably not the cheeriest factoid you’ve learned today. Dale, ever the spirit-booster, elaborates: “I would say gunshot suicides are the most common.” In fact, the vast majority of gun-related deaths in the U.S. (64 percent) are suicides, not murders or accidents.

Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesAnd continuing the horrific cycle, whoever first finds your body is now at higher risk themselves.

Jayce has found shotguns to be the worst:

“The most expensive jobs that I worked on were either shotgun suicides or anything that had long enough time to decompose into its surroundings. The third job I was assigned was one of the worst — even to the two-year veteran I was with. It was a husband and father of three small children who shot himself with a shotgun in a concrete walled pit in the ground. His body was in that pit for almost three weeks before we arrived. It took us almost 12 hours to completely remove any trace of human remains from that pit. We worked through the night, as we often did. In this case, it was to ensure the children of the deceased didn’t see us there that day.”

ratsadapong/iStock/Getty ImagesYou know it’s been an awful day at work when “children didn’t see father’s corpse” was the high point.

Here’s Dale again, to make a disturbing story worse:

“Every situation is unique. A decomposed body near a wall or on a second floor could be quite intensive for remediation. The fluids could seep into the structure, which would require complete removal of building materials. A high-powered rifle or shotgun suicide could also require extensive renovation. Due to the explosion and spread of body fluids and tissue, the contamination could be extensive and time-consuming to remediate.”

So suicide is clearly not the answer. Even if you truly believe you have nothing to live for, at least consider your neighbors’ drywall.

It Could Kill You

bennyartist/iStock/Getty Images

With rabid pests, dirty needles, and blood contaminated with who knows what, being a biohazard technician is incredibly dangerous. According to Dale:

“Sometimes, you go into an area that has no electricity, water, air conditioning, or lighting. There’s broken glass and splintered wood, and hoarding conditions, and angry families. Once, the police told us, ‘You better have a gun in here.’ Someone was driving around the street shooting a gun.”

joebelanger/iStock/Getty ImagesLunch break game: “Car Backfire or Future Job?”

Jayce and his crew have been forced into some pretty risky situations in the past as well:

“I was in a situation once where my crew and I had just finished working a 12-hour job, followed by four hours of sleep, right into another 16-hour job. As we were leaving the area and headed home, we got another call sending us to a house where a man infected with MRSA had just died. Despite my protests that it was unsafe for my crew to work a job while sleep-deprived, much less a job that we knew for a fact contained a contagious disease, they pushed us until we gave in and worked that job. Luckily, we did it without any slip-ups or being infected.”

gdas/iStock/Getty ImagesNothing wakes you up like some strong coffee and the constant threat of deadly, deadly bacteria.

Especially hazardous are all the needles and syringes technicians often find lying around. Dale warns of the consequences of not catching a needle before it catches you.

“Due to confidentiality, I can’t give you specific details in regards to deaths. I can tell you a bio company owner here in Arizona told me he had cut himself on a crime scene cleanup and was very sick. He passed a few years later. This was more than 20 years ago. Two friends who lived on the East Coast both died from illnesses related to the industry. I can’t say more than that. I personally have been stuck by a needle and had to go through one year of blood testing. When I get my yearly physical, I always get checked for HIV, Hepatitis, and syphilis — the three major risks that are checked when one gets exposed.”

You’ve heard the phrase “It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it”? Well, this is the dirtiest job, and these folks are the somebodies. Spare a moment of quiet gratitude that it’s not you. Of course, if it all didn’t sound that bad to you, you can always 1) see a psychiatrist and then 2) pick up a sponge.