Hazardous Substances in Composting

Published On:

June 5, 2024

Pressurised cab filter systems from Desert Engineering are available with multiple filter types to suit specific hazards and work environments. Composting & green waste handling presents a unique set of airborne hazards that, when inhaled can cause serious health problems for machine operators.

BMair protects during work in composting

Composting plants and biomass processors accept large quantities of organic waste on a daily basis. When processing organic waste, machine drivers and operators are exposed to large quantities of hazardous gases, vapours and fungi;


The presence of nitrogen in the form of fertilizer leads to substantially higher formation of ammonia during the composting process. People suffer from ammonia because the smell is very pungent. When people breathe in a lot of ammonia in a short time, it can affect the mucous membrane and the respiratory organs, among others. It can also be very irritable on the eyes.

Hydrogen Sulphide

This is a toxic gas with a pungent smell similar to the smell of rotten eggs. This identifying characteristic can only be perceived by people when the gas is present in low concentrations. Physical complaints: fatigue, sleepiness, irritation of the eyes, inflammation and irritation of the respiratory organs. High concentrations can even lead to pain in the nose and/or bleeding, the human olfactory organ is paralyzed preventing the perception of smells and can cause pulmonary embolism with fatal consequences.

Biological agents (Bio-Aerosols)

Biological agents are a collective name for particles in the air that contain bacteria, viruses, molds and yeast, also known as micro-organisms. People are mostly exposed to biological agents through the skin and by breathing dust. Biological agents should therefore not be present in the breathing zone. When the dust comes in contact with the skin it can cause skin infections and eczema