Tag Archives: animal wastes

Fences reduce water pollution

Oct. 20, 2010 – There are plenty of high-tech ideas to tackle pollution, but recent research suggests that some of the biggest gains in keeping our waterways clean could come from a more traditional technology – fences.

Simply fencing off streams and drainage ditches so farm animals can’t deposit manure in and around them could cut levels of faecal pollution dramatically, according to scientists. This would protect the health of people exposed to river water and help Britain comply with EU rules on water quality.

The researchers created a model of the various factors that lead to faecal pollution – and the harmful bacteria it contains – in rivers. They then used the model to work out how effective different methods aimed at cutting faecal pollution would be, using the Humber river basin as a case study.

Fencing off streams came out ahead by a big margin – the model suggests that by the time water flows out of a region of intensive dairy farming, its E. coli concentrations would be 58.59 per cent lower with fenced streams than without. As well as keeping animals away, the fences encourage the development of an overgrown riverbank zone which can help filter out faecal matter that’s washed off fields.

This is just one of several possible ways to address the problem. ‘But animals having direct access to the water seems to be one of the major risks,’ says Danyel Hampson, a PhD student at the University of East Anglia and lead author of the paper, published in Water Research. ‘The simple solution of fencing off cattle from rivers is probably one of the most effective ways farmers have of reducing faecal matter contaminating watercourses. From the farmer’s point of view, it is a solution that they can get on and do.’

Alternatives may be less effective, more expensive and more disruptive for farmers. For example, reducing the number of dairy cows in the area, the second-most-effective measure, would only lead to an 11.58 per cent reduction. The third-most-effective, cutting fertiliser use by 20 per cent to make grass less nutritious so that fewer cows can be kept on it, would cut bacterial rates by less than ten per cent. Both these measures would probably be much more painful for farmers.

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USA – Raccoon waste seriously dangerous

HEALTH: Roundworms can be fatal, harm nervous system

BELLINGHAM – The next time you see a raccoon pictured with a park ranger’s hat, imagine it instead with the robe and scythe of the grim reaper.

Bellingham resident Jon Shaughnessy learned about the downside of raccoons soon after he found some of their potentially deadly droppings beneath his porch.

“I said, ‘Whoa, this is serious stuff,’ ” he said. “People die from it.”

He’s right. Read on, but the story isn’t pretty.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Many raccoons have roundworms called Baylisascaris in their intestines. The roundworms produce millions of eggs, which are passed on in the raccoon’s feces. Those hardy eggs can take hold inside people and can cause fatal brain infections.

WHERE IS THE PROBLEM?

Infected raccoons have been found throughout the country. The critters often defecate in woodpiles; beneath porches; by and on trees; on decks, roofs and garages; and on flat surfaces such as logs, stumps and large rocks.

When researchers inspected the backyards of 119 suburban Chicago homes, they found raccoon latrines in 61 of them. Fourteen of the latrines had roundworm eggs.

Raccoon droppings, by the way, are generally dark, tubular and blunt in shape, strong-smelling, and often full of seeds and other food debris.

HOW DO PEOPLE BECAME SICK?

People who ingest the eggs risk illness and death. Once inside your intestines, the eggs hatch into larvae, which can travel to the brain, liver, spinal cord and other parts of your body. Victims often are children who have put infected dirt, objects or water in their mouth.

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