Environmental Effects of Mortality Disposal
Bonhotal, Jean; Schwarz, Mary
As carcass disposal options become limited, it is important that the disposal tools implemented protect human, livestock and environmental health. Burial, composting, and rendering are among the most common methods. With shallow burial or dragging carcasses out back, there are issues with wildlife and pets being exposed to carcasses and liquids leaving the carcass. Carcass burial is legal in most states but there is little assurance that pathogens are killed and the concentration of carcasses could affect ground or surface water. Burying animals does not ensure that they will degrade. Composting is a viable option that may provide the assurance needed to reduce the risk of disease affecting health or the environment. A comparison of disposal options shows that properly composted carcasses generate little leachate and that pathogen levels are reduced to lower than soil background levels. If composting is performed using too dense material that is not able to reach temperature, more leachate is generated and can become problematic in terms of nutrient loading as well as resulting in higher pathogen levels in the end product. Research shows there is flexibility in the process (as long as carbon source is not too dense) and composting can be used as a safe disposal method.
International Symposium: Management of Animal Carcasses, Tissue and Related Byproducts
emergency planning; mortality; composting; burial