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A Desk Study of the Health and Environmental Impact of Vermin/Insects in the Context of Waste Management Operations - WR0601

This project constitutes a desk based review to identify the possible impacts on health, disease and the environment arising from vermin and insect populations associated with the changing waste management horizon.

The review will identify and evaluate existing published and grey literature and involves contacting experts in insect and vermin (rodent and bird) concerns at waste management facilities. Information will be used to evaluate our understanding of the health and environmental consequences of insects/vermin in relation to new waste resource solutions such as MRFs, transfer stations, biological, physio-chemical and thermal treatments etc.

Much is known about the attraction that existing landfill facilities provide to rats, scavenging birds and domestic houseflies. This study will amalgamate the existing knowledge base into a concise review that would identify possible insect and vermin impacts of new waste strategies on health and the environment.

Organic material deposited in landfill facilities can sustain large numbers of insect, rodent and bird pest species (1). The impact, therefore, of separating the different fractions of waste for alternative disposal is not well understood. At existing sites, insects, scavenging birds and rodents have all been identified as vectors of pathogens (Salmonella spp, E. coli, Shigella spp, Campylobacter spp etc.) that have the potential to transport diseases to neighbouring communities. (2,3,4,5). Impacts on health and the environment from insects and vermin can be found at landfill waste management facilities throughout the world (6). The consequences for health and the environment are not, therefore restricted to the UK hence international research effort will be targeted as part of this study.

Infestations of insect populations such as House flies (Musca spp) can be sustained by landfills (7). They can arrive naturally, be imported from waste transfer stations or arrive directly through the waste processing cycle from commercial and residential collections (8). Their numbers can soar during summer when a site provides ideal breeding and feeding grounds (9). Composted waste, transfer stations and commercial waste collections are known to support fly infestations (10). The overall effect of the current drive towards recycling and separating waste materials on insects is not, however, fully understood. When temperatures are high, flies may migrate to local residencies and seek refuge in buildings resulting in further potential for direct disease transmission from waste management facilities to the household.

Commensal rodents pose a significant risk to human health. Norweigan rats can be present in large numbers at landfill facilities where they use sites for both breeding and feeding (11). They are known carriers of numerous diseases such as Leptospirosis, Versiniosis and Cryptosporidium and are frequently located in close proximity to humans in both agricultural, industrial and urban environments (12). Proximity to waste management facilities and the disposal techniques used can thus have a significant impact on health and the environment.

Avian vermin such as scavenging corvids and gulls increasingly rely on the foraging opportunities presented by open landfill amenities (13). They are known to travel upwards of 30 miles each day to roost (14) hence there is a high potential for transfer of disease by birds over vast areas of land. This can lead to conflict when thousands of birds visit conservation areas, agriculture, urban parkland, playing fields, sewage works, pig farms, industrial estates and urban areas in the vicinity of waste management sites (15). Gulls have been directly linked to the transfer of Salmonella to sheep and cattle and the transmission of disease to water storage reservoirs (16).

It is imperative that any future development of waste disposal practice does not aggravate the pest control problems currently experienced. By drawing together existing information and relating it to the intake of waste streams and environmental conditions at new facilities, this review will allow current knowledge to be interpreted in relation to modern facilities. A thorough search of the literature will allow an assessment of the overall impact of landfills on insect infestations and their effect on health and the environment surrounding existing sites to be determined.
1. To critically review the literature and research papers relating to the impacts of insect, rodent and bird species (vermin) from landfill facilities on health and the environment.

2. To produce a report relating results from existing sites to potential impacts from the development of new waste resource management schemes.

3. To identify areas where the knowledge base could be strengthened in relation to new developments.

This review would include three independent areas and cover the environmental and health impacts of insects, rodents and birds that frequent waste management facilities. The knowledge base within each area will determine the ability to model and predict best practice within insect, rodent and bird arenas at new waste resource facilities.
Project Documents
• Final Report : A Desk Study of the Health and Environmental Impact of Vermin/Insects in the Context of Waste Management Operations   (7792k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2005

Cost: £26,724
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Avian Diseases              
Disease Control              
Disease Prevention              
Environment and Health              
Environmental Effects              
Environmental Impact              
Environmental Impacts              
Environmental Protection              
Health Effects              
Impact assessment              
Waste collection and handling systems              
Waste Management              
Fields of Study
Waste Management