Spectrum Guides: Air Quality Issues in the Waste Industry

The waste industry can be prone to several air quality issues. Due to the nature of work and exposure to unpleasant smell, dust, and insect infestations – on-site issues can be a cause for concern for employees and neighbours. We’re unravelling the most common issues within waste and how to tackle them to create a pleasant work environment and keep everyone happy.

1. Issue: Odour Nuisance

Odour may be one of the most problematic and uncomfortable issues to arise on waste sites making it unpleasant for both employees and residents within the area. Odour issues can cause complaints on site and result in difficulties for businesses, therefore, its best to keep your neighbours on side for this one and minimise the odour exposure wherever possible.

Council Complaints – If an odour is causing disruption and effecting the lives of the neighbourhood/community, it’s inevitable a complaint or report will be made. Council complaints can be classed as a statutory nuisance (a nuisance covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990), these result in an abatement notice being issued, requiring the business or responsible person to resolve it quickly or be hit with a fine. If unresolved the business would be expected to stop activities causing the smell, which often leads to odour control systems being installed. However, it’s often much more effective to introduce odour control measures before reaching complaints to avoid negative relationships formed and fines.

In some cases (smell dependant) nuisance odour can be classed as a contributor to pollution, obviously bad for the environment – you don’t want to be responsible for emitting that.

Solution: Odour Monitoring & Control Systems

Controlling odour on-site is an essential step towards keeping workers and residents happy and free of complaints.

To identify any odour issues or assess the situation, odour monitoring can be carried out to provide results and management plans moving forward. These are particularly a requirement when dealing with environmental permitting and odour nuisance complaints. Odour assessments can provide accredited odour emissions data to comply with standards and regulations whilst odour management plans can help to identify and minimise odour risks, with a forward-thinking plan to maintain standards and keep odour emissions minimised. Ambient air monitoring assessments identify and quantify levels of specific odorous compounds.  

There are systems that can be used to control odour and keep it minimised on-site. The process of misting and fogging combined with Odour neutralising chemical additives, such as ODR, helps keep odour controlled.

ODR is effective in removing odours from the air and replacing them with a fresh, clean scent where preferred. Consisting of a non–toxic and natural formula ODR is not harmful to humans and animals where applied. ODR can be an ongoing treatment to keep odour complaints on-sites minimised and create a cleaner, more pleasant environment.

2. Issue: Airborne Dust

Airborne dust on site not only reduces visibility but can be hazardous to health, particularly of workers and those within the immediate environment. Airborne dust particles often arise from the nature of work in the waste industry and even when undetected to the naked eye – can be hazardous. With risks including development of COPD and lung disease from exposure to airborne dust in the workplace it’s undeniable why controlling dust on-site should be top of the agenda to create a healthy and safe environment (you can read more about the dangers of dust in our recent blog).

Airborne dust can be put into two categories – respirable dust and inhalable dust. Respirable dust particles are small and can travel deep into the lungs, causing serious health effects for those exposed to them. A respirable dust particle is identified as being smaller than 10 µm and can go unnoticed.

Inhalable dust is made up of larger particles which can be breathed in, these are more noticeable and can be inhaled through the throat and nose. Particles smaller than 100 µm make up inhalable dust.

Solution: Dust Management Solutions

Water-based dust suppression is an effective solution in keeping dust grounded on waste sites. The process of wetting (in environments where possible). Dust suppression using water is most effectively achieved using misting or fogging equipment, producing a finely atomised mist of water that captures and grounds dust.

Water-based suppression can also be supported by the addition of additives, such as dust suppression additives, which can adhere to airborne dust and bring it to the ground. Dust suppression additives provide a stronger solution than water-based suppression alone, keeping dust grounded and the air clear.

Other dust management solutions include non-water-based systems. These solutions – provided by StaticAir – use electrostatic technology to control dust in both indoor and outdoor areas. They are an eco-friendly and sustainable solution to dust suppression, with a very low energy requirement. StaticAir systems are effective in removing ultra-fine dust particles from PM0,1 to PM10.

3. Issue: Insect Infestation

Insects are another common issue within waste, build-up of rubbish and waste can cause insects to migrate and become a nuisance. Having fly or other crawling insect infestations on sites can result in complaints from workers and nearby neighbours. If this is the case, conditions regarding pests must be acknowledged and followed as it can result in legal issues if pests, insects, and flies aren’t kept under control and could result in being issued with an abatement notice.

Flies and crawling insects are unpleasant for workers and can be classed as an environmental health issue. Particularly within the waste industry, hot or warmer weather can be a contributing factor to infestations.

Solution: Insect Control

Insecticide and insect control additives are a common solution to on-site fly and insect nuisances. FlyGoPro provides an eco-friendly and non-toxic, bio-degradable solution meaning nothing is left behind. FlyGoPro works as a long-term solution to control insects on sites, reapplying and continuous use of FlyGoPro effectively keeps sites clear of flies and insects.

4. Issue: Cleaning & Contamination

Working with waste is bound to be dirty and cause build-up of bacteria. Not only does keeping a clean and safe site improve quality of work for employees, it helps towards reducing complaints and any environmental health issues which could arise.

Solution: Disinfection & Decontamination

On large sites like waste sites, the most effective way to disinfect would be using a fogging/misting system to reach larger areas. Systems such as a Rotary Atomiser or Jetstream would be an ideal solution to spray disinfect over large areas of waste sites to ensure they’re safe for employees and visitors.

ASE disinfect is a bio-degradable solution for decontamination and disinfecting surfaces, providing a clean and safe environment whilst prioritising eco-friendliness.

Many issues can occur within the waste industry and require an immediate/fast solution. Ensuring systems are in place to minimise dust exposure, odour and fly nuisance and keep a safe and healthy environment for staff, visitors and residents will reduce possibilities for complaints and reports and create a more pleasant environment for those effected.

If any of the solutions we offer are of interest to you, feel free to get in touch with our team of experts!

Phone: 01905 362100
Email: sales@airspectrum.com