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It is not uncommon for residents living near outdoor yard-waste composting facilities to report foul odors that they believe to be emanating from these facilities. In some cases, these odors result in litigious action such as nuisance complaints and the attribution of adverse health effects to a facility's emissions. Our thorough, though not exhaustive review of the literature identified only one study that quantified actual emissions from a yard-waste composting facility; however, this facility was operated in a completely covered enclosure. Although some authors have attempted to address the toxicological implications of microbial emissions from yard-waste composting facilities, availability of studies that characterize chemical emissions from outdoor yard-waste composting facilities and their potential to cause adverse health effects is lacking.

We describe the results of two surveys we conducted to characterize emissions from two outdoor yard-waste composting facilities. Our surveys consisted of obtaining grab samples of 43 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), 20 reduced sulfur compounds (e.g., hydrogen sulfide, carbon disulfide), and ammonia at both facilities.

In one case, samples were collected within the facility and up to its boundary; in the second, they were collected outside the facility fenceline at several locations. Upwind and downwind samples were collected at both of the facilities. In general, the results of our sampling surveys and literature review indicate that downwind chemical emissions from yard-waste composting facilities, while potentially odorous, are not likely to cause adverse health effects to nearby residents.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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