Suicide cleanup takes time and patience. At times a suicide cleanup becomes a decomposition cleaning; this occures when suicides occur alone and are not soon found. The same safety rules apply with suicide cleanup as any type of biohazard cleanup. We know beforehand that a suicide cleanup most resembles a homicide cleanup, but will differ markedly from a decomposition following death by natural causes while alone, an unattended death.  

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Homicide - Suicide - Unattended Death Cleanup

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  March 3, 2014
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Suicide Cleanup Narrative


Suicide cleanup sometimes takes a bit more patience than other types of death cleanup. Whatever your situation, you are in fact faced with a biohazard cleanup chore. Family members and others who may have resided with the suicide victim are exempt from OSHA suicide cleanup requirements. Also, only employees in the business of working with or near blood have the bloodborne pathogen training requirement.

Visit the suicide cleanup directory to find more information about suicide cleanup links.

Suicide and Death Cleanup Explained (in part)

A suicide cleanup follows an event that soils areas with organisms, or material from organisms. This we know as microorganisms such as bacteria, primarily. In some rare cases we'll find living viruses, especially from feces. Of the more dangerous viruses, Hepatitis C may continue to exist in the "wild" for up to 16 days, according to some researchers. As a bloodborne pathogen, a biohazard, this material threatens human health whenever conditions support contamination. Open wounds and especially needle stick create the worse conditions for contracting Hepatitis C and other bloodborne pathogens. For our purposes, suicide, homicide, unattended death, and other soiled environments are cleaned by removing soiling material, then actually cleaning, disinfecting, and sealing. The goal is to destroy and remove microorganisms, virtues, and toxins contaminating the environment with human fluids.

Death Odors from Decomposing Suicide
Suicide Causing Death Odors

Will all Neptune's great ocean wash Clean this blood from my hand? Macbeth

Here's a few words on the "death odor." Then crime scene cleanup comments follow, since suicide cleanup comes under the crime scene cleanup heading in most states.

Some people may recall seeing death's odor referred to as "miasma" in 19th English and American Literature, as well philosophy and medical literature. It goes back to the 17th century when the death odor was associated with disease. Many educated people taught that miasma was itself carried plagues. We know today that miasma is just as safe as any other odor. It simply offends our sense of taste. We might ask, "Were we born with a distaste for this odor?". "Do Instincts account for our repulsed behavior to this odor?" we might also ask.

Both answers to the above questions are no and no! Just like any other odor, we must learn to dislike miasma's various fragrances. Everyday around the world tens of thousands of people work with miasma and remain healthy. In short, we learn to "hate" the odor of death more so because of what it means to us than what it does to us.

Crime Scene Odors

These odors remain the same or nearly the same for any sort of biohazard cleanup. Only when a death cleanup involves chemicals contaminating a crime scene or other sort of death cleanup do changes occur. Temperature usually plays a part in odor's fragrance and permeating powers. A crime scene consist of both organic and inorganic substances. The inorganic are the materials used in the crime, such as the odor of gun powder. For our purposes here, our concern is the organic substances that lead to strong, repulsive contamination of a structure's internal environment.

Blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) begin decomposing once released from the body. The rate of decomposition depends upon the external environment's temperature, relative humidity, and other conditions. Along with decomposition follows odor. Both blood and OPIM

Blood's contents add to its odor causing properties once in its external environment, open air.

Proteins, carbohydrates, oxygen, carbon dioxide, urine, feces, enzymes, oils, and more add to its mal-odor properties. The detection of blood's odor depends upon the perceivers' previous experience with this odor as well as their strength of odor detection. Among any group of people, one will have a greater ability to detect blood's presence than the others, and so on. It is a relative matter.

Violent deaths usually involve a great loss of blood and tissue, OPIM (Other Potentially Infectious Materials). The loss of blood and tissue, the environmental conditions, and other circumstances will aid in the production of offensive suicide cleanup odors, miasma.

Sometimes miasma lingers because of poor ventilation. Sometimes, miasma lingers following suicide cleanup. Although suicide cleanup removes offending matter, death's odors permeate porous materials: fabrics, paper, wood, and more.
Suicide cleanup practitioners do their best to remove odors associated with suicide and other death scenes. However, removing the source material will not always return a suicide scene to its pre-incident condition for some time. Time and heavy ventilation, and removal of miasma permeated materials will help return the scene to a more "normal" condition. Suicide cleanup may include use of ozone equipment if not hydrogen peroxide equipment.
We can apply chemicals to help increase miasma's departure following suicide cleanup, but even chemicals have their limits. Ask your suicide cleanup company about odor control policies and methods if this is a concern. top


Blood cleanup following death or trauma

Never remove biohazardous material without wearing gloves. "For cleaning blood or bloody fluids from floors, bed, etc., you can use household rubber gloves." Wear protection over eyes, nose, and mouth. Have a safe means of exit and a place to decontaminate yourself and clothing.

Dried blood that flakes may easily become aerosolized if mishandled. Contact with airborne blood places the cleaner at risk of infectious disease. 

Before removing, moisten flaking (scabbing) blood. Cause it not to become airborne. Cover flaked blood with paper towels and lightly moIsten with a disinfectant (bleach) from afar. Use a spray bottle while making wide, misting applications to the paper towels' surface. Before removing blood, ensure that it is moist enough not to flake, but not dripping.

Dry paper towels may be used to contain wet blood. Allow towels to dwell until dry. Flush in small quantities, or gently place inside two thick plastic bags. Seal tightly with duct tape. Directly dispose of in a landfill.

Any fabrics soiled by blood become biohazardous if it releases blood when compressed. See this link for what's universally considered infectious until proven otherwise. Contain blood from afar; disinfect it. Pour blood down the sanitary sewer if you are not going to seal it for transfer.

Thoroughly wash hands.

See Blood Cleanup 1, blood cleanup 2, and blood cleanup 3.

OSHA 1910.1030(d)(1)

General. Universal precautions shall be observed to prevent contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. Under circumstances in which differentiation between body fluid types is difficult or impossible, all body fluids shall be considered potentially infectious materials.

Useful disinfectants may be found here:

Blood Spills: see index at



Biohazard Symbol Meaning and Origins

As early as the 1950s, leukemia researchers paused to consider their infectious environment. The issue of warning others about infectious materials could no longer go without a serious solution. Others involved in Public Health Service contract work involved in virus and bacteria research were of a similar mind. As a result, a program of direct inquiry and a search of the scientific literature for medical hazards showed that no universally used symbol existed for serving as a standard warning for infectious materials. Rules and standards for a symbol's design were agreed upon, and a final selection based on “uniqueness" and "memorabilia" lead to our current biohazard symbol for universally recognized infectious materials' presence and containment.

The National Institutes of Health recommended using our current symbol as a warning of biological hazard. Others followed because of a symbolic warning's importance in terms of its unmistakable look and warning.

So much counts on warning others of infectious materials' presence inside and outside of microbiology laboratories that all people need an awareness of this symbol's meaning. Although the naive may not immediately recognize its meaning, its appearance ensures caution near its presence.

Its appearance represented an increase in biological hazards as medical science grew exponentially in some laboratory sciences. Protecting exterior environments required warning symbols as well as interior environments. As a result, new containment methods arose as intelligently designed barriers systems began to protect labor.

Barriers now include solid walls, pressure
differentials to control movement of air, personnel and material controls during movement, and outright inactivation of infectious agents themselves.

In a barrier systems, locations of the infectious agents must be known; as result, warning symbols clearly identify infectious materials' holding areas. Clear direction signs point to areas used of storing infectious waste. Anyone involved in such an environment must not to accidentally breach barrier systems, and personnel must know what
equipment, glassware, rooms, corridors, and ducts are contaminated by the infectious agents. Biological hazards related to radiation, invisible, odorless, and tasteless constituents require special attention and handling.

It seems logical, then, to mark the location of "biohazards," as they are commonly called, with a suitable warning sign that is readily noticed and easily recognized.

During investigations of biological control and containment conducted under contract for the
National Cancer Institute, the need for such a symbol became apparent to the Dow biohazards
research and development team, A search of the literature revealed that, while certain biological
warning signs are used by various agencies, a universal symbol to warn of danger from infectious or potentially infectious agents - a symbol whose immediate significance is known to all - does not
exist. Colleagues in the field of biological research concurred, in reply to direct query, that
such a warning symbol is needed.

Universally accepted symbols for hazards that are not readily detectable have already been
established, such as those used in denoting radioactive areas. Similar warning notices are
being sought to point out danger due to laser
emission. In biology laboratories, however, a number of different symbols are in use; none of these has been universally accepted, and none imply or encompass all possible biohazards. For example, an inverted blue triangle bearing the term "BIO" is used by the Army to warn of biological contamination; a rectangular "hot-pink" label, with radiating yellow bands, is used by the U.S. Navy.

The sign color stipulated in the standard form is fluorescent orange-red. Laboratories in areas containing infectious organisms; a red and black sign is used by the National Institutes of Health to mark restricted areas; and the white snake-and-staff imprint on a violet field is sponsored by the Universal Postal Convention to mark infectious materials during transit. In formulating the design for the proposed biohazards symbol, six criteria were established, mainly dealing with the psychology of recognition and retention.

These criteria, in order of their importance, are that the symbol be (i) striking in form in order to draw immediate attention. Dow artists created more than 40 symbol designs, of which six were selected for testing. A survey to ascertain acceptability of the six symbols was conducted among Dow employees.

It became important to define as clearly as possible how and under what circumstances the symbol
should be used. A use standard was therefore prepared. Our infectious materials standard tells us that our symbol "shall be used to signify the actual or potential presence of a biohazard and shall identify equipment, containers, rooms, materials, experimental animals, or combinations thereof.

Originally studied as a fluorescent fire-orange color over a 6-month period at the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health recommend the biohazard symbol's use.

The National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland also played a key role in using, testing, and recommending this symbol for biohazards in general. Of course, for suicide cleanup, it becomes a biohazard cleanup symbol for universally infectious materials.

As a result, a definition for biohazard came forth as the following:

"those infectious agents presenting a risk or potential risk to the well being of man, either directly through his infection or indirectly through disruption of his environment."

The symbol became an American Standard Institute inclusion for their "Standard Specifications
for Industrial Accident Prevention Signs," Z3S.1 code.

Suicide Cleanup Continued



White Males

Aged 24-35 or over 50


Recently widowed, separated, or divorced

History of psychiatric disorder, in particular deprfession, schizophrenia, or alxcoholism, which has required hospitalization

History of suicide attempts


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Suicide and Death Cleanup Explained (in part)

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