Effects of Sewage Pollution on Humans

  • Oral – drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated seafood
  • Dermal – getting contaminated water on your skin and in open cuts or rashes
  • Aerosol – inhaling water droplets such as those from breaking waves.

When toxic substances enter a body of water, they will be dissolved, become suspended in water or get deposited on the bed of the water body. The resulting water pollution causes the quality of the water to deteriorate and affects aquatic ecosystems. Pollutants can also seep down and effect groundwater deposits. Pollutants enter groundwater, rivers, and other water bodies. Such water, which ultimately ends up in our households, is often highly contaminated and can carry disease-causing microbes.

Domestic Sewage?

Domestic Sewage originates primarily from kitchen,bathroom, and laundry sources. Waste from food preparation, dishwashing, garbage-grinding, toilets, baths, showers, and sinks.

Why is Domestic Sewage a Problem?

Domestic sewage contains a wide variety of dissolved and suspended impurities. It amounts to a very small fraction of the sewage by weight, but it is large by volume and contains impurities such as organic materials and plant nutrients that tend to rot. The main organic materials are food and vegetable wastes. Plant nutrients come from chemical soaps, washing powders, etc. Domestic sewage is also very likely to contain disease-causing microbes. The various substances that we use for keeping our houses clean add to water pollution because they contain harmful chemicals. Most detergents and washing powders contain phosphates which are used to soften the water, among other things. These and other chemicals contained in washing powders affect the health of all forms of life in the water.

When sewage enters a lake or stream, microorganisms begin to decompose the organic materials. Oxygen is consumed as micro-organisms use it in their metabolism.

What can we do?

Dispose of grease and fats with your trash, not down the drain. Even if you run it through a garbage disposal, grease in drains can collect and harden into a plug.

Plant trees and large shrubs away from sewer lines. Roots grow toward breaks or cracks in lines. When roots get inside the pipe, they clog it.

Never connect sump pumps, french drains or other flood control systems to your sanitary sewer. It’s illegal and the debris and silt will clog your line. Call a plumber to undo illegal connections.

Health Effects of Breathing in Raw Sewage

“Raw sewage can be a serious health risk particularly if it enters drinking water or even water that is used for fishing and swimming. The pathogens related to untreated sewage are bacteria, parasites and viruses that are most commonly associated with acute illnesses like diarrhea. However, there is one virus that can cause an acute respiratory illness which are the adenoviruses (but they are also associated with illnesses such as gastroenteritis, conjunctivitis and rash illness).

The symptoms of respiratory illness caused by the adenovirus from untreated sewage can range from the common cold to pneumonia, croup and bronchitis. Those persons with compromised immune systems could be at serious risk of complications related to the adenovirus. If one is also in a condition of stress and overcrowding, he/she can develop acute respiratory disease (ARD). Some adenoviruses, like Adv36 (AD-36) may be associated with causing obesity.”

Top 10 Health Risks of Sewage Damage Exposure

Sewage damage is one of the most dangerous, and most costly, catastrophes that can happen to a home or business owner. Most people do not realize how dangerous exposure to sewage contamination can be to their family or colleagues.

Below is a list of pathogens and allergens that fester in sewage waste. Each danger is accompanied by its symptom in an attempt to educate property owners on the potential dangers of contamination.


Usually single-celled, parasitic life forms microscopic in size. Most genera cause decay, fermentation and disease. Below is a list of common bacteria found in raw sewage.

Campylobacter jejuni

A microaerophilic bacteria known as one of, if not the most, common cause of gastroenteritis. Long-term effects include could arthritis and Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) if not treated immediately.
*Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system, causing ascending paralysis.

(Escherichia coli) E. coli

A Gram-negative bacterium commonly found in the lower intestine. Symptoms bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting.


A Gram-negative bacterium known to survive without the need of a host. This makes salmonella one of the more threatening genera of bacteria in raw sewage. Sufferers could experience symptoms of gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever and other common ails of food poisoning.



Cause respiratory infections like pneumonia, croup and bronchitis. Also known to cause severe eye infections.

HPV (human papillomavirus)

Normally knows as a sexually transmitted disease (STD), HPV can also infect humans when exposed to raw sewage. Along with wart growth, HPV is known to cause cervical, anal and genital cancer.

Norwalk Viru

Known to cause 90% of the world’s non-bacterial gastroenteritis outbreaks.


This viral strain can cause severe diarrhea and high fevers.



A protozoan parasite which causes Cryptosporidiosis. “Crypto” causes severe diarrhea in people with healthy immune systems. Immune Deficient patients’ symptoms are far worse and often fatal.


An anaerobic flagellated protozoan parasite that colonizes in the small intestines. Symptoms included acute gas, severe diarrhea, dehydration, vitamin malabsorption and chronic weight loss.

Roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides)

Parasite caused disease known as Ascariasis while blocking the intestinal track. Causes visceral damage, peritonitis and inflammation of the body. Malabsorption will degenerate into malnutrition and anorexia in the infected individual.

Tapeworm (Helmiths worm)

Tapeworm actually feeds on intestinal track. Risks include vitamin deficiencies, fatigue, weight loss and, in extreme cases, severe neurological damage (ie. Seizures)