Exposures and health outcomes in relation to bioaerosol emissions from composting facilities: a systematic review of occupational and community studies

TitleExposures and health outcomes in relation to bioaerosol emissions from composting facilities: a systematic review of occupational and community studies
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsPearson C., Littlewood E., Douglas P., Robertson S., Gant T.W, Hansell A.L
JournalJ Toxicol Environ Health B Crit RevJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part B: Critical Reviews
Volume18
Pagination43-69
ISBN Number1093-7404
Accession Number25825807
Keywords*Refuse Disposal, Aerosols, Air Pollutants, Occupational/*toxicity, Environmental Exposure/*adverse effects, Humans, Occupational Exposure/*adverse effects, Occupational Health
Abstract

The number of composting sites in Europe is rapidly increasing, due to efforts to reduce the fraction of waste destined for landfill, but evidence on possible health impacts is limited. This article systematically reviews studies related to bioaerosol exposures within and near composting facilities and associated health effects in both community and occupational health settings. Six electronic databases and bibliographies from January 1960 to July 2014 were searched for studies reporting on health outcomes and/or bioaerosol emissions related to composting sites. Risk of bias was assessed using a customized score. Five hundred and thirty-six papers were identified and reviewed, and 66 articles met the inclusion criteria (48 exposure studies, 9 health studies, 9 health and exposure studies). Exposure information was limited, with most measurements taken in occupational settings and for limited time periods. Bioaerosol concentrations were highest on-site during agitation activities (turning, shredding, and screening). Six studies detected concentrations of either Aspergillus fumigatus or total bacteria above the English Environment Agency's recommended threshold levels beyond 250 m from the site. Occupational studies of compost workers suggested elevated risks of respiratory illnesses with higher bioaerosol exposures. Elevated airway irritation was reported in residents near composting sites, but this may have been affected by reporting bias. The evidence base on health effects of bioaerosol emissions from composting facilities is still limited, although there is sufficient evidence to support a precautionary approach for regulatory purposes. While data to date are suggestive of possible respiratory effects, further study is needed to confirm this and to explore other health outcomes.

Short TitleJ. Toxicol. Environ. Health. B Crit. Rev.
Alternate JournalJournal of toxicology and environmental health. Part B, Critical reviews