Crime scene cleanup is a term applied to any situation involving biological cleaning and or health concerning issues. Such issues may include:
- Flood and sewage backups
- Human decompositions
- Hoarding (pack rat houses)
- Bird or rodent droppings (hantavirus/histoplasmosis dangers)
- Toxic mold, spore, and fungus remediation
- Distressed property remediation (unfit for habitation)
- Animal and pet odors
- Mass casualty scenes
- Police chemicals usage
- Disease outbreaks
- Medical waste transport, treatment and disposal
Television productions like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation have added to the popularity of the term Crime Scene Cleanup. Australia, Canada and England have added it to their professional cleaning terminology.
The generic terms for Crime Scene Cleanup include trauma scene cleaning, biorecovery, crime and trauma scene decontamination, CTS Decon, blood cleanup and bio cleaning and crime scene clean up. The State of California refers to individuals who practice this profession as Trauma Scene Waste Management Practitioners.
Types of cleanup
A crime scene cleanup may involve a single blood loss event following a burglary, battery, or homicide. Companies also clean suicides, unattended deaths, tear gas damaged environments, and other crime and trauma scenes. Larger crime scenes involve terrorist attacks, mass murder scenes, and the cleanup of anthrax and other biochemicals.
Crime scene cleanup companies may also clean bird and rodent infested areas. Crime scene cleanup companies are trained to clean up “compulsive hoarding” situations where the dwelling owner, over time, refuses to remove items of any kind such as trash, food, and animal and human waste. The crime scene cleaners’ experience and equipment more suits this type of cleaning than a typical cleaning company’s. Besides the Federal Government’s OSHA standards, many state Health, OSHA or EPA departments have created similar standards and regulations. Similarly, the Center for Disease Control establishes standards and regulations for working with blood soiled environments as well as exposure reporting.
The crime scene cleaners’ work begins when the coroner‘s office or other official, government body releases the “scene” to the owner or other responsible parties. Only when the investigation has completely terminated on the contaminated scene may the cleaning companies begin their task.
Standard operating procedures for the crime scene cleanup field often include military-like methods for the decontamination of internal and external environments. Universal precautions recognized Worldwide are the cautionary rule-of-thumb for this field of professional cleaning.
In the U.S. OSHA regulates this industry through its Bloodborne Pathogen Rule 1910.1030.
In popular culture and the media
Crime scene cleanup as a profession in its own right has only popped up a few times in popular culture and the media. It first showed up in films when Quentin Tarantino produced Curdled, then after an eleven year hiatus in the Samuel L. Jackson vehicle, Cleaner, and most recently when Amy Adams and Emily Blunt teamed up for Sunshine Cleaning. On television it’s found its way onto a smattering of documentaries aired on The National Geographic Channel and The Discovery Channel, as well as reality series such as Grim Sweepers. In print and online it’s been the subject of Alan Emmins book Mop Men: Inside the World of Crime Scene Cleaners, been featured in an Entrepreneur Magazine Ten Off The Wall Businesses profile, and in a piece on six figure jobs that appeared on CNN.