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Health aspects associated with living in the vicinity of a compost company : A literature study

Gezondheidsaspecten van het wonen nabij composteerbedrijven : Een literatuurstudie


People living nearby companies that produce compost from plants vegetable, garden and fruit waste (GFT) may be exposed to unpleasant odours. This may lead to those residents becoming anxious about their health. The measured concentrations of chemical substances in the surroundings of these compost companies, such as various volatile organic substances, ammonia and sulphurated compounds, have been found are low and will not exceed the risk levels. Little is known with regard to the health effects of bio aerosols or airborne particles (micro-organisms that are spread through the air, such as bacteria and fungi) that may be released during the composting process. It is not possible to make any conclusions on this point, however, due to the limited number of studies available.

This has become clear from a literature study conducted by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) into the health aspects of people living nearby companies producing GFT compost. The study covered the compost process, the possible harmful effects of substances and bio aerosols and looked at the health effects on people living in the vicinity of these companies.

In order to gain more insight into the possible health risks for people living nearby a compost company, methods are needed to measure the exposure levels of bio aerosols. In addition, it would be useful to set up an assessment framework on which the possible risks of bio aerosol exposure could be monitored. Such a framework could link up with a future assessment framework for health aspects associated with intensive livestock farming.

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