Bioaerosols in the waste CHP plant – using the example of household waste
Bacteria, viruses, fungi & Co.
The majority of the microorganisms are species that do not cause infection diseases in either humans or in animals and plants. However, wastes also contain a large bandwidth of pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites), which are mostly input into the waste by sick people. Even if they often only account for a small fraction of the microflora of wastes, they give rise to the high hygiene risk potential caused by wastes. The orderly collection and treatment/recovery of wastes is therefore extremely important to ensure hygienically safe settlement areas.
Hygienic risks of waste management
In the area of waste management itself, suitable measures should ensure that the hygienic risks caused by wastes do not constitute an untenable hazard for either the employees or for the environment. In this context, the air pollution emitted by wastes is of particular importance. Apart from dust, they can contain volatile gaseous and/or odour-intensive substances and also diverse bioaerosol constituents. Bioaerosols not only include microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses) but also fragments of animals and plants (pollen, fibres, hairs, etc.) as well as metabolic products (MVOC, mycotoxins, etc.). Air contaminated with bioaerosols can be a risk to human health due to infections, intoxications and sensitisation.
Waste management company of Neu-Ulm (AWB)
The waste management company of Neu-Ulm (AWB) processes up to 100,000 t of residual waste per year in the two furnaces lines of its Weißenhorn waste CHP plant. The concentrations of bacteria, fungi and bacterial endotoxins in the area in relevant areas of the plant (delivery, waste bunker) were examined on behalf of the Weißenhorn waste CHP plant. Further investigations were used to check the quantities of important representatives of human-pathogenic microorganisms are detectable.
The initial hypothesis was confirmed: The human-pathogenic microorganism species recorded accounted for only around 0.1 - 1 percent of the total quantity of viable bacteria and fungi detected. It is known that less than ten infectious units of certain pathogens are needed to cause diseases.
For this reason, occupational health regulations (including in the German Biomaterial Regulations ("Biostoffverordnung")) justifiably specify that suitable protective measures must be complied with in plant areas in which human-pathogenic pathogens (can) occur.
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