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«Guide to Recovering and Composting Organics in Maine Maine Department of Environmental Protection Guide to Recovering and Composting Organics in ...»

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A. Categorizing and Addressing the Hazards As was alluded to above, most potential compost facility hazards fall into one of two categories: equipment hazards and personal exposure hazards. Equipment hazards involve traumatic, direct contact injuries such as: slips and falls, strains and sprains, entrapment, crushing injuries, amputations, electrocution, injuries from flying debris, or repetitive stress injuries. Equipment injuries are usually more prevalent when employees are physiologically stressed (over worked, fatigued), or may simply be due to ergonomic issues such as bad posture. Personal exposures usually result from indirect contact as a result of equipment use or feedstock manipulation. These hazards include: fumes, dust and other respiratory irritants (bioaerosols), leachate, noise, and environmental stressors (such as extreme heat or cold, wind and precipitation). The majority of personal hazards are elevated through the use of personal protective equipment (e.g., goggles, gloves, boots, hearing protection, respiratory protection).

Both equipment and personal hazards may be reduced or avoided by developing “protective measures” beforehand, including:

1. Planning regular breaks for personnel to rest and refocus. Mandatory stretching targeting frequently used muscle groups should be considered as well.

2. Dividing tasks among multiple employees to reduce potential for overwork or early fatigue.

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3. Encouraging proper posture, lifting techniques, and other ergonomically correct methods to reduce the potential for repetitive stress and other injuries.

4. Frequent training to reinforce proper and safe use of equipment.

5. Providing personnel with appropriate and necessary personal protective equipment (PPE).

6. Routine equipment inspection and maintenance.

B. Bioaerosols This chapter would not be complete without mentioning Bioaerosols. Bioaerosols are a group of respiratory irritants, including - bacteria, fungi, viruses, and organic dusts - that may cause respiratory and gastrointestinal issues when inhaled or ingested. Much study has been focused on bioaerosols since the mid-1990s due to health concerns from neighbors abutting large compost facilities. Results indicated that bioaerosols are generally transported on organic dust particles that did not travel far from the area of generation.

Thus indicating that bioaerosols are a facility concern and do not pose a risk to facility neighbors. The studies further concluded that bioaerosols do not generally pose a risk to healthy individuals, but seem to specifically impact individuals who have chronic respiratory issues or have suppressed immune systems. Smoking was also found to be a contributing factor to the effectiveness of bioaerosol infections.

Recommendations arising from these studies all focused on reducing dust generation and limiting personal exposure risk by providing staff with initial and routine health monitoring, providing proper PPE (including respiratory protection) in areas where organic contaminants are prolific, or by simply removing susceptible personnel from areas where bioaerosols may be abundant. Dust generation may be reduced by keeping feedstocks and other materials moist, and by enclosing operations prone to excessive dust generation such as: grinding, mixing, and screening operations.

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IX. Summary  Set the goals of the Compost Program  Create a continuing public education program  Create the marketing plan for the compost before you create the compost  Select a site that meets the goals of the program, fits the resources of your community or business, and is compatible with state regulations  Follow the guidelines for making compost - - paying attention to the recipe, the mix, the flow of materials through the various stages of the operation, and the slope and condition of the working surface  Record the temperature and odor of the piles and use them as your guides throughout the process  Be prepared to modify your operation as compost conditions require  Distribute the cured and finished compost


Nearly a third of Maine’s communities have instituted bans on the disposal of leaves and yard trimmings with their municipal solid waste. Currently, there are 35 centralized municipal leaf and yard waste programs in operation in Maine. This guide is intended to encourage and support more municipalities to consider a composting option for the unwanted organics currently being disposed of.

Programs that have established successful track records in managing leaf and yard trimmings are encouraged to think about taking their composting programs to the next stage and adding other source separated organics to their mix. Good examples would be certain kinds of food wastes and fish processing wastes. Food discards comprise as much as 25% of the residential waste stream as compared to 13-14% for leaf and yard trimmings.

Such a move would require additional regulatory review and monitoring, but would provide an alternative management option at a potentially lower cost than other disposal methods currently available. For more information on composting these and other materials, please see Appendix A (Technical Assistance.)

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X. Resources Available TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE: Statewide The following individuals offer composting technical assistance to individuals, municipalities

and businesses interested in developing compost facilities and their operations:


Bureau of Land Resources - Sustainability Division 17 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333-0017 Phone: 207-287-7688 OR 1-800-452-1942

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Publications Composting for Municipalities, Planning and Design Considerations Editor: Mark Dougherty. Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service, 152 Riley - Robb Hall, Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, NY. 14853-5701. 1998.

126 pages (NRAES publication #94)

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On Farm Composting Handbook Editor: Robert Rink. Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service, 152 Riley - Robb Hall, Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, NY 14853pages. (NRAES publication #54)

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Useful Web Site Links Maine Compost School: www.composting.org Cornell Composting: http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/resources/soil-health-ecology/ The U.S. Composting Council: www.compostingcouncil.org The Composting Council of Canada: www.compost.org Composting – US EPA: www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/compost/index.htm Food Waste Reduction: www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/reduce/food/food.htm California Integrated Waste Management Board: www.ciwmb.ca.gov/organics The Compost Resource Page: www.oldgrowth.org/compost/ The University of Maine Cooperative Extension: http://extension.umaine.edu/ Periodicals

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