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Bioaerosol Dispersion Modelling

New initiatives from the EU limit the amount of biodegradable waste to be sent to landfills; as a consequence, this action promotes composting as an option for sustainable waste management, which in turn has raised concerns regarding public health impacts of exposures to potentially hazardous bioaerosols. 

Bioaerosols are airborne particles produced by living organisms such as fungi, bacteria, spores, pollen, dust-mites, fragments of plants and animals, and constituent parts of cells; microorganisms (bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi) and their cellular components (endotoxins, mycotoxins, glucans) being the largest proportion. Composting facilities are an important source of bioaerosols and peak emissions are related to compost agitation (shredding, screening and turning). 

The Environmental Agency required risk assessments from those facilities with sensitive receptors (building, structure or installation where at least one person normally lives, works or attends school) within 250 m. To improve current risk assessment methodologies, a series of model experiments, using the ADMS 3.3 air dispersion model is tested including parameters such as kind of waste being composted, weather conditions, sampling methods, static and episodic events. 

The results will be compared with bioaerosol measurements taken downwind of a composting facility, to determine the accuracy of the model predictions. This is one stage in an attempt to design a best practice method for modelling bioaerosols.