Use of dispersion modelling for Environmental Impact Assessment of biological air pollution from composting: Progress, problems and prospects

P. Douglas, E. T. Hayes, W. B. Williams, S. F. Tyrrel, R. P. Kinnersley, K. Walsh, M. O'Driscoll, P. J. Longhurst, S. J.T. Pollard, G. H. Drew*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


With the increase in composting as a sustainable waste management option, biological air pollution (bioaerosols) from composting facilities have become a cause of increasing concern due to their potential health impacts. Estimating community exposure to bioaerosols is problematic due to limitations in current monitoring methods. Atmospheric dispersion modelling can be used to estimate exposure concentrations, however several issues arise from the lack of appropriate bioaerosol data to use as inputs into models, and the complexity of the emission sources at composting facilities. This paper analyses current progress in using dispersion models for bioaerosols, examines the remaining problems and provides recommendations for future prospects in this area. A key finding is the urgent need for guidance for model users to ensure consistent bioaerosol modelling practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-29
Number of pages8
JournalWaste Management
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Environment Agency through an industrial CASE award (EPSRC CASE award EP/G501319/1 ), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) through the Environmental Microbiology and Human Health Programme (Grant reference NE/M01163/1 ), and the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Health Impact of Environmental Hazards at King’s College London in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) and collaboration with Imperial College London. The work of the UK Small Area Health Statistics Unit is funded by Public Health England as part of the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, funded also by the UK Medical Research Council. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Environment Agency, Public Health England, the Department of Health, the NHS, NERC, MRC, or NIHR.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Authors


  • Bioaerosols
  • Compost
  • Dispersion modelling
  • Environmental Impact Assessment


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