Emergency mortality composting associated with a disease outbreak has special requirements to reduce the risks of pathogen survival and disease transmission. The most important requirements are to cover mortalities with biosecure barriers and avoid turning compost piles until the pathogens are inactivated. Temperature is the most commonly used parameter for assessing success of a biosecure composting process, but a decline in compost core temperature does not necessarily signify completion of the degradation process. In this study, gas concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced inside biosecure swine mortality composting units filled with six different cover/plant materials were monitored to test the state and completion of the process. Among the 55 compounds identified, dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, and pyrimidine were found to be marker compounds of the process. Temperature at the end of eight weeks was not found as an indicator of swine carcass degradation. However, gas concentrations of the marker compounds at the end of eight weeks were found to be related to carcass degradation. The highest gas concentrations of the marker compounds were measured for the test units with the lowest degradation (highest respiration rates). Dimethyl disulfide was found to be the most robust marker compound as it was detected from all composting units in the eighth week of the trial. Concentration of dimethyl disulfide decreased from a range of 290-4340. ppmv to 6-160. ppbv. Dimethyl trisulfide concentrations decreased to a range of below detection limit to 430. ppbv while pyrimidine concentrations decreased to a range of below detection limit to 13. ppbv.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Waste Management and Disposal