Endotoxin emissions from commercial composting activities

Lead Research Organisation: Cranfield University
Department Name: Sch of Applied Sciences


Bioaerosols are airborne particles of microbial, plant or animal origin and may be thought of as 'organic dust'. There is a growing recognition amongst scientists that there are potential health risks associated with inhalation of bioaerosols. These health risks include infections and irritations of the respiratory system. There is evidence that bioaerosols are generated at some waste facilities and therefore scientific research is needed to find the best way of managing these facilities to minimise health risks to the people who work there and also people living nearby. This project aims to develop new knowledge of a specific bioaerosol component of concern known as endotoxin. Endotoxin is a chemical produced by certain bacteria. It is well known that endotoxins can cause lung damage if breathed in. What is not known is the extent of the risk to the public from endotoxin released from composting facilities. This project aims to find out how much endotoxin is released from composting facilities, how far it will travel and whether the concentrations found in air from compost facilities can harm the health of people living close to these facilities.


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Deacon L (2009) Endotoxin emissions from commercial composting activities. in Environmental health : a global access science source

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Pankhurst LJ (2011) Spatial variations in airborne microorganism and endotoxin concentrations at green waste composting facilities. in International journal of hygiene and environmental health

Description Environment Agency engagement
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Contribution to Environment Agency technical guidance document and to staff training
Description Defra waste evidence
Amount £168,000 (GBP)
Funding ID WR 1121 
Organisation Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEFRA) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2011 
End 12/2012
Description Composting industry talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

None known
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010