CTS – Can You Ever Get Rid Of The Smell?

The other morning I was talking to an adjuster whom I had sent pictures of a trauma scene to and she commented that she hadn’t seen anything so disturbing in a long time. I told her that she was lucky those pictures weren’t scratch n’ sniff.

Seriously, what people don’t get out of the news feeds of disasters around the world where death and mayhem exist is the smell. Television is so sanitized and people are so desensitized visually. But talk to people that have worked in those environments – combat soldiers, workers for the many NGO’s at disaster sites, police and firemen and what you’ll find is that the smell of death and decomposition is unforgettable. It etches one with an indelible imprint that changes you. Smells change your experience of an event as drastically as visually changing from black and white to color.

Most people have smelled a rotting fish or dead rodent but anyone that has smelled a decomposing human recognizes that the smell is different and it’s worse. Why? I’m not going to get all scientific on you here but let’s just say ‘garbage in, garbage out’. Humans consume so much garbage compared to animals that when they decompose, the odor is more foul. Processed foods, preservatives, chemical additives, etc in what we eat and drink create a unique odour. Most animals eat organic and are vegetarian.

Remember when Mythbusters did that episode where they put a pig in a Corvette and let it decompose and tried to get the smell out. They failed – “Myth Busted”. Well, they were wrong because I’ve done it successfully…many times. Yes, the odor penetrates the fiberglass, Yes, most interior parts are not cost effective to restore but the challenge isn’t one of whether the cost warrants the effort, just simply a technical challenge, ‘Can it be done?’ I developed my odor busting skills in cars from ICBC with rotting slime and maggots from one end to the other. It took a lot of experimenting before I developed successful processes.

Ok, enough intro. What’s the answer?


Is it easy? Absolutely not! In fact this is where most companies that provide decontamination services fail. I don’t intend to give away my secrets but I will discuss some odor basics.

  1. Source removal is the first step.
  2. Don’t use deodorizers to cover it up, it will come back.
  3. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there still.
  4. There are no instruments that are as sensitive as our noses (and our noses aren’t very good compared to many animals).
  5. Once you’ve solved the real odor problem, you often must deal with the ‘psychological’ odor.

So to summarize, yes the odor can be removed. Is it worth it? That depends.

Call Genesis for successful odor elimination services.

15 Nov | No replies

Crime & Trauma Scene Cleanup Standards: What existing government standards, regulations or guidelines exist that deals with blood and body fluids?

Let’s begin with the difference between the three.

Regulations are law. To break the law results in fines leading up to civil and criminal prosecution.

Standards should be unbreakable and quantifiable, while guidelines are the place for the softer science.  Standards are meant to be implemented as written, and generally don’t use the subjunctive case anywhere in them — no “coulds”, “woulds”, “shoulds”, etc.  They don’t have levels of implementation that are soft, or statements that certain things should be avoided if possible.

Guidelines are different. Things that they publish don’t contain words like “will” or “shall”, but words like “may”, “could”, “should”, or “would”. Guidelines are used in places where the group knows that there’s either no way to get everyone to agree on something, or where the guidelines will specify that something that is impossible be done. You can’t generally refer to a guideline in a standard as a normative reference, because it is softer than a standard.

OSHA is the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation under the United States Department of Labour. There are three primary sections of the Regulations that apply to Crime & Trauma Scene Cleanup.

  • 1910.120 Subpart H  – Hazardous Materials
  • 1910 Subpart I – Personal Protective Equipment
  • 1910.1030 – Subpart T – Toxic and Hazardous Substances

OSHA has created a Bloodborne Pathogen Standard to prevent workers from contracting bloodborne diseases. It is the only body in the United States to create a Standard at this time and it applies to anyone that may come in contact with blood or body fluids during the course of their job.

In Canada, the enforcement of safety and health legislation is not federal but is provincial. Work Safe BC is recognized across the country as the most proactive and current administration.

Work Safe BC has created regulations that have force of law and has also created many guidelines to help with the implementation of their laws. Guidelines Part 6 – Biological Agents – G6.34 is the regulation which is very nearly a copy of the OSHA regulations. They have also created a number of resources which could loosely be referred to as a guideline Controlling Exposure: Protecting Workers from Infectious Disease

As you can see, these Standards and Regulations are general and not specific to the processes of performing successful Crime & Trauma Scene Cleanup. To do the job properly one must be thoroughly familiar with all of these regulations and standards and wise in the application.

16 Sep | No replies

Qualified Crime & Trauma Scene Cleaning?

Have you ever watched the video “Sunshine Cleaners”?  It’s a tale of a single mom trying to eke out a living as a house cleaner and her slimey boyfriend suggests there’s big bucks in cleaning up after a bloody mess is made. The progression is a pretty accurate description of how most people that do this business got into it. The scary thing is that there is no licensing requirements or credible certification in North America to protect the people requiring this service from all the twisted nuts that want to ‘charge large’ and not do a proper job. There is a wide range of people ‘doing it’.  Many are a huge liability to themselves and their customers while a few take pride in doing it carefully, thoroughly and with a professional demeanor and result.

Lately in Vancouver, literally dozens of people have taken a three day course in ‘how to’. At the end the instructor gave them all a ‘certificate’. Are they certified? Only in the sense that an uncertified instructor waved his magic wand and prints a piece a paper that says so. Now is that to say the training was bad? Not at all. It’s just that there are no standards for this industry and it’s buyer beware.

So what is the scoop? What do you really need to know? The answer will make up a series of blogs.

  1. Crime & Trauma Scene Cleanup Standards: What existing government standards, regulations or guidelines exist that deals with blood and body fluids?
  2. The Evolution of Crime & Trauma Scene Cleanup: How has the industry evolved and where is it at?
  3. Crime & Trauma Scene Cleanup: Define Clean!
  4. Can you ever get rid of the smell?
14 Sep | No replies