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Exploration of the microbiological health risks of manure

Verkenning van de microbiologische risico's van mest voor de gezondheid : Op basis van een systematisch literatuuronderzoek


This literature review explored the health risks associated with exposure to pathogens that are spread through manure. Few studies were found on possible health risks of human exposure to pathogens from manure through water and air. The risks of infection resulting from exposure through air appear to be smaller than through surface water. The airborne and waterborne pathogens that were studied are often present in manure.

The number of pathogens decreases when manure is treated, for example through composting, fermentation and biological purification. The extent of the decrease is highly dependent on the conditions of the manure treatment, such as the temperature and the moisture and oxygen content. The duration of the manure treatment process is also very important. Manure treatment is applied to process manure surpluses or to create new products and possibly export them.

In this report, the scientific literature was reviewed for the number of pathogenic bacteria in manure from pigs and cattle. The extent to which these pathogens find their way into the surface water and air, as well as the possible health risks were also examined. The focus in this explorative study was on the pathogenic variant of the E. coli bacterium and the known resistant bacterium MRSA, since these bacteria can survive well in water and air, respectively.

This study was carried out on behalf of the Health and Environmental Programme-based Executive and was funded by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The project was carried out by RIVM and Wageningen UR (Livestock Research). Insight into the emissions of pathogens from manure to the environment, the possible growth or inactivation of pathogens in manure and the extent of exposure is important in assessing potential health risks.

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