Compost Workers Health Survey

The Organics Recycling Group has been asked to help with medical research into the health of workers on compost sites. The information below has been provided by the research team and we would ask that interested members contact either of the medical staff named for further details of the research.

Research overview and call for volunteers

There are an increasing number of medical reports of ill health due to exposure to garden waste or compost. These include two fatalities and a number of allergic lung conditions. Some companies operating in this sector are undertaking health surveillance of their workers based on a questionnaire response and reviewed by a designated competent person. My research is designed to establish if a questionnaire for chest symptoms is enough, or should breathing tests and blood tests or skin prick tests for emerging allergy to microbes in compost be carried out as well?  In conjunction with The Health & Safety Laboratory I would like to carry out a study of compost workers to answer these questions.

To complete the project we need composting companies to support this research by allowing us to ask their workers to complete a questionnaire and for workers to agree to give voluntary samples for analysis. This should take no more than 20 minutes of their time. We should like to recruit at least 100 workers and so far one company with 40 workers has agreed to take part. We have a scientific protocol which we will share with participating companies and we have ethical consent to do this work. We are happy to acknowledge the contribution of each company in any scientific publication that might arise from this research.

If your company is interested in taking part please contact either Dr Subhashis Basu at or Dr Jon Poole at

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Jul 16
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