Protecting Biosolids Compost Workers From Health Risks



Biosolids compost workers are constantly being exposed to a lot of allergies- and infections-causing organisms because basically, they are dealing with garbage. Although wastewater sludge has already been treated when it passed by the first process of dealing with household waste materials, it is not without one of the most common fungus known as Aspergillus fumigatus.

Workers are also being exposed to endotoxins and other allergens, which can cause chronic illnesses and other health hazards. The fungus is typically found in decaying organic matter and soil, and can be inhaled by the workers. Once the fungus’ airborne spores are inhaled, the affected person may suffer from skin rashes and burning eyes.

Healthy individuals are at lower risk of contracting any kinds of symptoms, but immunocompromised people are at risk. The spores of Aspergillus fumigatus can be found everywhere and therefore, most people have a low risk of exposure. But workers in treatment plants are subjected to higher spore counts because the presence of these microorganisms in these facilities is higher than anywhere else.

Wear masks and other protective devices

Biosolids compost workers should be wearing masks and other protective gears to ensure that they are not exposed to allergens. It is the responsibility of the treatment facilities owners to provide these protective devices. Although it may be difficult to work while wearing such gears, workers should keep in mind that these devices are saving them from illnesses and diseases that may be caused by microorganisms found in pathogens in biosolids.

Installing air conditioners

Front end loaders should have filters or air conditioners. The same goes for the offices in these treatment facilities. The owners must make sure that the offices are sealed and that no airborne microorganisms from the plants will get inside the offices, where the workers are most vulnerable. Airborne diseases particularly spread easier in air-conditioned rooms because there are no exit points.

Ventilating composting halls

Composting halls can be quite suffocating when not ventilated properly, which is why properly and thoroughly ventilating such rooms is of primary concern to every government agency that examines and investigates the processes and the facilities of a treatment plant. Failure to ventilating the composting halls can lead to workers getting suffocated from the odor and the inability of oxygen to circulate in the room.

Installing odor-removing systems in the composting areas

There are many methods that allow the removal or the reduction of biosolids odors from composting halls. The use of biofilters is one of these methods, though biofilters is not without its drawbacks, too. Plant managers and owners should make all the necessary arrangement to install odor-scrubbing systems in the composting halls to ensure the health, safety, and overall well-being of their workers.

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