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Disaster recovery and restoration can be veiled in mystery to the many who have not undertaken specific training. This glossary explains technical terms to assist both report writing and the understanding of those technical terms so often misunderstood.


The Disaster Advice Glossary and its contents are the protected copyright of Disaster Advice

Raw Sewage

Sewage waste that has not undergone any treatment for the reduction of effluents or the removal of harmful pollutants and pathogens. Raw sewage is also called black water sewage. See IICRC Industrial Sewage Hospital Sewage Pathogens Residential Sewage Sewage


RCRA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

RCRA provides only a corrective action that must clean up a contamination to a level that will protect human health and the environment. 42 U.S.C. 6924 v. This clean up standard provides the reassurance characteristic of any statement devoid of meaning. In other words Congress statement policy in this regard is everyone wants to protect human health and the environment. RCRA by memorandum is one of EPAs primary methods of implementing important programs including RCRA. RCRA authorizes the EPA to require companies that transport store or dispose of hazardous waste to clean up previous contamination at their facility as a condition of staying in business. 42 U.S.C. 9004u v. RCRA is referred to as a corrective action plan which must be developed on a case-by-case basis. General Liability Note Contractors providing fire damage clean up of commercial and industrial buildings may experience RCRA compliance problems. See CERCLA



Products that are manufactured and designed in standard shapes and sizes and are easily available.


Reasonable Care

In water fire and disaster management reasonable care is the most professional and appropriate method of managing and remediating a property claim. Reasonable care requires sound judgement while applying industry standards of care. Reasonable care takes into consideration the drawing of inferences or conclusions from known or assumed facts about a particular claim or hazard. See IICRC S-500 Standard NIDR Guidelines for Fire and Smoke Damage Repair


Reasonable Maximum Exposure RME

The highest exposure that is reasonably anticipated or expected to exist or occur at a site. RMEs are estimated for individual exposures and routes of exposure or a combination of exposures at the source and their pathways.


Reasonably Anticipated Future Use

The future use of a building or facility after cleanup and decontamination from abandonment or prior use which reasonably can be predicted to a high degree of certainty given the historical use or current use planning and zoning.



Mitigation employees building occupants the public at large the building and its parts and even an atmosphere that may be effected by a release of a contaminate or pollutant.



Situations which reoccur to allow portions of exhausted air or airborne contaminates to reenter or re-entrain in a building zone or room. Airborne or surfaceborne contaminates which are allowed to re-enter a cleaned or uncontaminated building space. See Cross-Contamination


Reference Dose

A toxicity value for evaluating potential non-carcinogenic effects on humans resulting from exposure to chemicals and other pollutants of concern.


Refrigerant Dehudifiers

Machines which are manufactured to remove captured humidity on their refrigerant coils measured in pints per day over 24 hours water is then released from the machine through a plastic flex tube to a drain. Engineering Note Refrigerant dehumidifiers are effective engineering controls for the reduction of unwanted humidity in buildings from the higher moisture ranges down to approximately 20/25%u0025 RH after a water damage event. See Dehumidification Desiccant Dehumidifiers Dri-Eaz Dehumidifiers EBAC Dehumidifiers Grains of Moisture Phoenix Dehumidifiers


Relative Humidity

The ratio of the quantity of water vapour present in a room or building atmosphere to hold and retain the water vapour measured against the quantity of water vapour that would saturate it at any specific temperature. Restorative Drying Note In wet-water damaged buildings if its relative humidity is 75%u0025 in the surrounding air the air contains 3 quarters of the total amount of water vapour which it is capable of holding at a temperature and atmosphere pressure in the room at the time of the measurement. Change in temperature and pressure will change the relative humidity. See Absolute Humidity Ambient Humidity Condensation Dew Point Drying Conditions Evaporation Grains of Moisture Psychometrics


Relative Wind Direction Temperature Humidity and Wet Building Drying

In part the wind direction carrying the outside building wind pressure including temperature and humidity added to the equation of the wet building. Restorative Drying Note If the relative outside wind direction temperature and humidity are dryer compared to the wet ambient indoor humidity the dryer relative humidity can work as a major benefit during the interior water damage mitigation and restorative drying process drydown. But if the outside humidity and wind direction towards the building as in the case of wind-driven rain is high the wind and relative high humidity can only complicate and work against the contractors wet building drying methods. If the humidity conditions from wind and high relatively humidity encompass and engulf the wet building and its interior atmosphere through building leaks the dehumidification process is less effective. Outside wet atmospheres severely complicate an make inert the drying process of most small building drying and dehumidification systems. If humidity is high outside as well as inside the building then the dehumidification contractor must double the efficiency of the drying system to compensate for the outside wet atmosphere. Note I did not say double the drying equipment but the dehumidification efficiency. See Wind Force



The temporary or permanent movement of persons and/or property from hazards or harm.


Remedial Action

Activities conducted to reduce or eliminate current or potential future exposures to persons and property. Mitigation Note Remedial action may include site monitoring screening and clearance testing to warrant that the remedial action clean-up operations were completed properly or sufficient to resolve a known or potential exposure.



The processes necessary for overcoming an environmental problem. The terms for remediation and mitigation are quite often used interchangeably. See Abatement Mitigation


Remediation Services

Any one of a number of acceptable methods or actions to reduce or eliminate a hazard or contamination including but not limited to health and safety structural support flood and fire damage remedial services. Education Note Once a site assessment has been completed and all issues have been addressed by the owner or responsible party the contractor provides the responsible party with a contract and a scope for work leading to the completion of remediation services. Only after acceptance of the agreement and scope of remedial work should remediation services or remedial actions begin. See Abatement IICRC Mold Mitigation Scope Writing


Removal of Contaminated Building Contents

Removal of Contaminated Building Contents means the careful inventory bagging and removal for disposal of contents that cannot be sanitized are not cost effective to sanitize or items which later may be a health issue if they have not been properly sanitized.


Removal of Contaminated Building Materials

Removal of Contaminated Building Materials means the careful detachment proper handling and disposal of porous sewage saturated building materials such as drywall insulation and carpet.


Remove and Reset

A salvage and restoration method for built-in cabinets counters and vanities which is meant to carefully detach remove and when appropriate are to be reset back into place with no damage or a minimum of damage repair. A call out for appliances toilets and bath tubs to be removed and reset usually for a floor or wall repair. c In flooded buildings remove and reset is an acceptable method for removing contents from harms way and resetting them back in place after drying cleaning and sanitizing or repair. Same as detach and reset.


Remove and Restore

A moving and restorative method requiring the contents or a building material to be removed from a damaged location to a plant or shop where they are identified cleaned of all damage and restored back to pre-loss condition.


Repetitive Loss

A repetitive repeat loss is one that occurs twice within a 10-year period. FEM


Replacement Air Volume

Replacement air volume should equal the total volume of air removed from the building by exhaust ventilation. An average building may require 3 to 5 air exchanges per hour while an industrial building may require more. Industrial building air heaters are usually designed to supply 100%u0025 outdoor air. Mitigation Note After a fire or flood it is best to have 100 percent outside air exchange unless the temperature and humidity do not warrant 100 percent air exchanges.


Replacement Cost of a Dwelling or Structure

In insurance terminology for replacement cost of a dwelling or structure are those costs directly associated to an insurable loss once an insured has repaired or replaced an item or material at the same location as shown in the Declarations of the insurance policy which a damaged occurred or destroyed a dwelling or separate structure that sustained property damage. Education Note 1 The limit of insurance under a policy that applies to the damage or destroyed dwelling or separate structure 2 The replacement cost of that part of the dwelling or separate structure damaged with equivalent construction and for use on the same premises 3 The amount actually needed and spent to repair or replace the dwelling or separate structure intended for the same occupancy and use. However if the cost to repair or replace is typically more than %u00241000.00 or more than 5%u0025 of the limit of insurance on the damaged or destroyed building whichever is less the insurance company will usually pay no more than the actual cash value until repair or replacement is completed.


Replacement Cost Value RCV

The cost for replacing the building material or content with an exact replacement or a material that is equal to or possibly better than the original. See Actual Cash Value


Representative Samples

Indoor air water soil and building material samples that are considered representative of known or highly suspect material or contaminate. See Preliminary Survey


Rescue Procedures

At any time a work space has hazards or conditions that may lead to a hazard the employer is mandated by OSHA to implement a Hazard Communications Program HAZCOM to all employees before allowing an employee to gain access and entry near in a hazard or a potential hazard. Contractor Note Part of the HAZCOM is the requirement by employers to already have in place company standards for rescue and procedures on how to implement a rescue if a rescue from an injury occurs. See Confined Space HAZCOM


Reservation of Rights

A document prepared by the insurer and presented to the insured stating the insurer reserves their rights to accept or deny a claim and relinquish its rights under the policy by investigating the loss.



An insurance term which calls for the insurance company to place funds into a separate account to cover the claim as estimated. Contractor Note In business reserve is more commonly referred to as working capitol which is required to complete a project or phase before the contractor is paid and reimbursed for their work product.


Residence Premises

The one or two family dwelling and separate structures or that part of any other building where the insured resides and property which is shown in the declarations. Residential premises includes the grounds on which the dwelling and separate structures are located.


Resident Organisms

Common organisms typically found in a healthy building. See Biotic Factor Non-Resident Organisms


Residential Building

Dwelling structures that are single family condominiums town homes and some apartments containing less than four housing structures.


Respirable Air Dynamics

Respirable air is the intake and exhalation of air after normal inhalation or the intake and exhalation of air during exertion. During activity normal inhalation and exhalation is increased resulting in forced or labored breathing. Forced air breathing is called complemental or complementary air. Complemental air can amount to 3000 millimeters of air bringing the vital capacity the maximum amount of air moved in and out of the lungs over any one forced breath to 4500 to 6500 millimeters. In resting non-labored breathing the action of just breathing in air that is not forced through exertion is called tidal air. Tidal air is the ordinary air inhaled and exhaled during each breathe. In adults tidal air amounts to about 500 millimeters of air. Exhaled air is air forced out of the lungs after normal exhalation and is called supplemental air it amounts to about 1100 millimeters leaving the lungs with about 1200 millimeters of residual air. Residual air is air remaining in lungs which is not forced out.


Respirable Dust

Respirable dust refers to airborne particles that settle deep into the lungs and they do not eject by exhaling coughing or expulsion with mucus. See Respirable Particles


Respirable Guidelines

The American Conference of Governmental Hygienists ACGIH sets threshold limit values TLVs for many chemical and physical respiratory hazards. The ACGIH recommends particle size-selective TLVs for inhalation hazards in the workplace. Particle size determines the deposition site within the respiratory tract and the subsequent health effect.


Respirable Particles

Airborne respirable particles are generally defined as being 10 microns or less in size. Airborne particles fall into two categories biological and non-biological. Health Note Respirable particles of fungi average from 6.0 to 0.05 microns in size. Only HEPA rated respirators are to be worn by the inspection team and technicians during mold investigations invasive inspections of mold and remediation of mold. See Aeolian Contamination Respiratory Diseases



A NIOSH rated device that is worn over the nose and mouth to protect the wearer against particular airborne hazards. Some respirators protect against dust and mist particulates while other respirators protect against vapours and fumes. Respirators have limitations. No respirator nuisance dust mask to canister masks are designed to supply oxygen. Warning Respirators must be worn for a specific contaminate. The wearing of a respirator is no gurarantee the worker is not being exposed to contaminates. All persons wearing a respirator must have first been trained and certified in the handling and use of a respirator before they are allowed to wear a respirator. Misuse of a respirator may result in injury illness or death. Refer to CFR 1910.134


Respirator Fit Test Tent

A nylon reinforced material enclosure having a window that is designed to place one person in the tent at a time. The respirator fit test tent creates a concentrated area of an irritant smoke agent for quantitative respirator fit testing. The tent has two openings input and exhaust of an irritant smoke when using an irritant smoke. The tent is also designed for a saturated towelette which can be clipped and hung inside the tent when using a banana oil or Iso Amyl Acetate test. The respiratory fit test tent is about 48%u0022 high and 24%u0022 in diameter and a viewing window.


Respiratory Diseases

See Occupational Related Respiratory Diseases


Respiratory Protection

The appropriate protection necessary to eliminate inhalation of a foreign substance. 29 CFR 1910.134 42 CFR Part 84.


Respond to Cleaning

An acceptable cleaning measure used to test surfaces for cleaning after a stain or a spill. Some furniture and carpet stains may not respond to cleaning which afterwards they will require other types of neutralization and cleaning repair or replacement.


Response Action

An immediate call to action and a course of action which may include all or various elements of emergency assessment monitoring containment or abatement measures or to mitigate known or potential hazards to human health and safety of the environment. Mitigation Note A response action is a first-step control action taken before interim remedial action or remedial action.


Response Action Evaluation

A qualitative analysis based on known or readily available information to identify the need for an urgency of response actions and the need for further information gathering. A response action evaluation for a water damage or fire damaged building requires an expert opinion about visual observations and methods used for containment and clean-up operation. c A response action evaluation of a fire damage earthquake or storm damaged building requires an expert opinion from a general contractor and structural engineer before building access is allowed.



In water damage remediation after completion of all remediation services restoration refers to the Construction Note Repair or construction methods which building materials are repaired or replaced back to. Building and content materials that are returned to their pre-loss condition. c Insurance companies refer to restoration as methods and services for damaged building materials and contents which are equal too or better than they were prior to the time of loss.


Restorative Cleaning

The cleaning methods required to bring back the material or fabric to an acceptable clean level. Restorative cleaning requires the removal of residues contaminates and pollutants caused by a specific damage or incident to pre-existing or normal conditions. Education Note Restorative cleaning by itself does not require other supplemental procedures such as painting masking or sealants. See Clean for Paint Cleaning for Restoration


Restorative Drying

The use of mechanical and engineering controls necessary to dry a wet building properly. Restorative Drying Note Restorative drying can only be completed properly by trained water damage technicians who have classroom and hands-on knowledge on how to professionally dry various types of wet buildings and indoor atmospheres. Education Note Wet building restorative drying requires an amount of science and scientific equipment to dry a wet building properly. c Wet buildings requiring restorative drying may also require post-testing by microbiologists or industrial hygienists assuring the building is not influenced or has not become unhealthy from fungal contamination of the previously wet building materials. See Consequential Building Damage Due Diligence Psychometrics Secondary Damage Structural Drying


Restorative Drying Goal

The process of implementing a drying goal requires moisture and humidity monitoring of dry building materials and atmospheres compared to wet and/or humidified materials and atmospheres. Restorative Drying Note If the majority of the building is wet and humidified the control for the restorative drying goal must come from materials and atmospheres from outside the effected building or area such as a comparable dry building having the same building materials.


Restorative Drying Manual

The Restorative Drying Manual is a comprehensive technical manual which teaches the fundamentals of how to remove surface water from flooded buildings to advanced methods of restorative drying. The author is Mr. Claude Blackburn 1993. The publication has been updated and as of 1997/98 it is called Restorative Drying The New Complete Guide to Water Damage Restoration



In sewage damage remediation it is the resolidifying and suspending sewage and waste through fresh water reflooding detergent washing followed with extraction. Mitigation Note Once sewage water and solids are identified in or under a building they need to be professionally removed through resuspension of the contaminates. See Cleanup Detergents Leachable Surfactant



Any action chemical or engineering control that slows or reduces a peril in progress such as clean-up of a water damage dehumidification airflow or a chemical such as a disinfectant in controlling microorganisms.



Any change made to a structure to reduce or eliminate damage.



In sewage contaminated buildings rewashing means and often refers to the porous and semi-porous surfaces such as concrete slabs requiring repeat warm water washing and scrubbing of the surface until the rinse water is clear. See Sewage Terms



Inflammation of the lining of the nose resulting from an allergen producing substance. Health and Safety Note A Rhinitis condition can develop or is accelerated from the presence of fungi and dusts in wet buildings. Rhinitis can be spread through the use of air movers other remediation and building drying devises. c As an occupational hazard air movers and air drying equipment must not be turned on until all surface contaminates have been removed. See Conjunctivitis Respirable Particles



A common outdoor fungi found in soil which grows on vegetative fruits and baked goods. Rhizopus fungi is found on decaying organic matter including building wood and drywall paper which have experienced flooding. Rhizopus has been known to produce allergies in some persons and result in fungal necrosis disease in humans.



Microscopic organisms which are carried and growing on the cells and body of microscopic animals called arthropods. Arthropods are lice fleas ticks and mites. Health Note Rickettsia is a type of parasitic microorganism resembling small bacteria but they are not able to multiply on their own except in a host. Effected arthropods under contaminated or ideal conditions will pass diseases to humans from cuts or borrowing into the skin. See Infestation



Ringworm is a popular name for a fungal skin infection common to the feet groin scalp and fingernail beds. Ringworm is not a parasite or nematode as are other worms. Ringworm usually appears as a round circle or ring on the skin. The roundworm fungi spreads uniformly outward leaving normal skin inside the ring. Ringworm is marked by ring-shape redness scaly or blistery patches. See Athletes Foot Fingernail Fungus Tinea



The potential for or probability of an adverse effect. Risk may be subjective but risk are also expressed qualitatively or quantitatively.


Risk Assessment

An analytical study of the buildings physical concerns or damage along with other factors. Some other factors may include the potential for adverse effects on humans and a building caused by a damage occurrence. Education Note Risk assessment means disclosure of locations of potentially harmful substances. Risk assessment considers what is the best method of mitigation and abatement such as development of corrective action goals and determination of where interim remedial actions or a combination of actions are required. c Depending on the risk assessment survey and analysis the recommendations must address the overall risk both today and possibly one year from now if complete clearance could not be provided at the time of analysis. See Phase-I Phase-II Phase-III


Risk Factor

The lowering or elimination of the level of risk posed to human health or the buildings environment through response actions interim remedial actions remedial action or a combination of actions.


Risk Reduction

Non-site-specific human health risk-based values for chemicals and other pollutants of concern that are protective of human health for specific exposure pathways.


Risk-Based Assessments

One or more site assessments and surveys that must be conducted before for the industrial hygienist site assessor or risk manager is able to establish a working knowledge of the known or potential hazards of a property.


Risk-Based Corrective Action RBC

Corrective actions that include parts or all of the Tier-1-3 Evaluations. In addition RBCA is the integration of the site assessment hypothesis modelling remedial action selection and monitoring with appropriate risk and exposure assessment practices. RBCA methods creates a process by which corrective action decisions are made and are consistent in such a manner as to protect human health mitigation employee health and the environment.


Risk-Based Corrective Action RBC Procedures

The sequence of principal tasks and decisions associated with the RBCA process. Each action and decision must be discussed and agreed before methods and procedures are implemented. Before actions and decisions can be made all fact finding and historical information is gathered along with the initial site assessment information which are input information to develop the site conceptual model and exposure pathways evaluation.


Risk-Based Corrective Action RBC Tiered Approach

RBCA Tiered Approach are the corrective actions and integration of the site assessment remedial action selection and monitoring with appropriate risk and exposure assessment practices along with notifications. Before RBCA are implemented the Tiered Approach includes notifying all stakeholders and it involves providing all relevant information pertaining to the site and approximates associated with the site that may become part of the site. For example a building where the source and exposure is located to one floor or area and pathways for exposure extend to other tenant occupied and unoccupied areas or facilities.


Risk-Based Screening Levels

Assessing exposures of contaminates to buildings and occupants. Risk factors may be linked to an increase risk of an adverse health effect from an adverse building condition.


River Flooding Damage Guidelines

In water damage remediation it is the flood water from rivers streams and lakes which enter into buildings. River flooding brings with it silt mud and organic matter that become adsorbed into porous building materials. Education Note Methods of Assessment and Mitigation 1 Once the flood waters recede all wet buildings must be checked for safety before entry. Health and Safety Note Do not use electricity and gas sources until they have been inspected. Keep all power generators outside the building%u0021. 2 Wear a HEPA rated respirator gloves and protective clothing. 3 After an assessment of the building damage 4 remove all salvageable contents to a safe place. 5 Wash and rinse bleach sanitize and rinse salvageable contents then wipe them down use wood oils and creams to restore finish and hardware. 6 In the building remove all standing flood water silt and mud. 7 Remove effected carpet and pad drywall and insulation. 8 Pressure wash all subfloors and exposed sill plates and stud bays. 9 For basements pump out the flood water. 10 For raised foundations pump out flood water and open skirts and access to the building. 11 Force in fresh air and exhaust out wet air. 12 No building should have new drywall or insulation installed for a minimum of 2 weeks and only after passing a moisture test survey. 13 Have the building independently inspected by building inspectors before restoration and by utilities before using gas and electricity.


Robotic Inspection

The use of mechanical devises and electronic instruments to survey and inspect for potential damage in a pipe sewer vent cavity or a confined space. See Intellinozzle



A structurally engineered top component section of a building. The roof acts as a weather resistant water tight membrane which separates the perimeter structure from the top of the building. The roof along with a tight sealed perimeter allows an ambient environment to exist in a building separating the interior atmosphere from an outside exterior atmosphere.


Roof Caused Floods

Resulting roof floods are usually caused by a downpour and wind driven rains. Rain damage to a roof is due in part to the weathering of the roof covering sheathing membrane or tiles. Other issues which allow roofs to leak are a result of a construction defect such as to the ridge ridge vents valley flashing hip starter course eave metal drip edge gable vents rake to the underlayment and poor maintenance that results in a leaking roof are a result of algae build-up on roofing materials leaves on roof and in rain gutters missing or damaged flashing cracked or rotten shingles loose and missing shingles rotting underlayment and decking curling and blistering wood rot on fascia board and end boards missing rock and granules.


Roof Wrap

A wind and moisture barrier covering extending beyond the damage of a roof. Mitigation Note A roof wrap is used to cover roofs that are damaged from wind storms and wind driven rain and roof damage resulting from a fire. Safety Note Completing a roof wrap under the best of conditions can result in increase fall issues for employees. Workers wrapping a pitched roof must wear harnesses that protect them from falls. The use of ladders must be properly designed ladders made for the purpose and placement against a roof must have an extension above the roof edge of no less than 3 to 5 feet. Wrapping a roof usually means the roof is damaged and employees must be made aware there is the potential of falling through damaged roof materials.



In building damage the term rot is any organic building material that has degraded decomposed disintegrated or is in a state of decay because of current or previous exposures and contact with water moisture and/or humidity. See wood rot


Routes of Exposure

Education Note In buildings an evaluation of where the contaminates came from and finally settled too. Health Note In humans the ability of a microorganism to enter into persons. Inhalation ingestion adsorption and skin puncturing are the main routes of exposure from microorganisms.


Rust Bleed

In painting rust bleed is a result of corrosion. The rust bleed reddish appearance on paint that is applied over ferrous metal usually is a result from exposure to humid atmospheres or chemical attack.


Rusting Rusted

A condition brought about due to the presence of both oxygen and water moisture and moisture vapor. Rusting is an electro-mechanical process in which different parts of iron act as electrodes in a cell reaction. Rusting is accelerated by impurities in iron and by the presence of acids and other electrolytes in water.



A group of parasitic fungi of the phylum Basidiomycota. Many rust species are associated with plant pathogens which attack the leaves and stems of certain crops and vegetative plants. The name given to fungi rusts are primarily due to the rust-like color which is characteristic and found on effected plants. The life cycle of some rusts may be complex many rusts form a number of different types of spores and some are found and identified in indoor environments which have been flooded.



Values given to resistance. R-Value is a value given to insulation having different qualities and matrix which allow resistance to the heat flow and reduces heat-exchange. Education Note R-values of residential building insulation range from R-11 to R-30. R-Value equals the thickness of the structure wall divided by its K-Value. Mitigation Note Once building insulation becomes wet the insulating properties of fiberglass Rockwool blown cellulose and many other types of insulation loose a portion of their R-Value which does not appear to be recoverable after drying.


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