Industry News




 

03/26/2008

Avian Fecal Matter Poses Threat to Buildings and Occupants

Although the risk of contracting an infection from bird droppings is relatively low, these diseases are severe and may be life threatening if contracted

 
By R. Brett Madden

Birds can be a serious public health hazard to buildings and their occupants through the spread of more than 60 transmissible (even potentially fatal) diseases if fecal matter and nesting materials on and/or in HVAC and other rooftop equipment are not properly remedied. Diseases such as Histoplasmosis, Asperuillosis, Cryptococcis, Encephalitis, Salmonella, and Lasteriosas can spread through bird excrement and nesting materials. Because birds can travel over great distances, this provides a means of transfer of several different types of parasites from one location to another. In addition, bird excrement provides an ideal environment for the growth of organisms and other dangerous spores. Although the risk of contracting an infection from bird droppings is relatively low, these diseases are severe and may be life threatening if contracted.

Diseases can be contracted through a number of ways:

1. INHALATION: Inhaling pathogenic spores can enter through either the nose or mouth. Bird excrement is most dangerous when in a dry state; it becomes airborne in a fine fecal dust form, especially when the dry excrement is disturbed. Contaminated fecal dust can typically enter a facility through air-handling and related equipment. As such, it is of critical importance to keep rooftops and air-handling equipment free from birds. Moreover, all vents and equipment openings should be properly sealed. Equipment should also be regularly inspected to ensure that the covers and/or rooftop equipment has not been compromised.

2. DIRECT CONTACT: Diseases can be spread when bird excrement dust and/or bird excrement comes into direct contact with an open wound or cut. For this reason, whenever bird droppings are being removed, it's critical to wear all of the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at all times.

3. ASSOCIATED PARASITES: Accumulated bird excrement or nesting materials can harbor parasites, such as mites, fleas, bed bugs, ticks, and other types of parasites, all of which can bite humans. These parasites can transfer diseases when the parasite bites an infected animal and extracts blood that contains the germ. When the infected parasite bites its next victim, it can pass along the germ to the new host. As such, after bird droppings and all of the nesting materials have been removed, an Ectoparasite inspection should be performed to see if further treatment is necessary to remedy any harboring parasites.

4. FOOD AND WATER CONTAMINATION: When a diseased pest bird directly defecates into a human food or water source, diseases can be transmitted. In addition to direct contamination, airborne spores may travel through air ducts and ventilation systems, which can settle on exposed food.

In addition to the disease transmission factors discussed above, there are other factors that should be taken into consideration when reviewing the dangers and problems that pest birds present. Accumulated bird excrement can allow significant water penetration into buildings and can cause subsequent roof decay. In addition, bird excrement, feathers, and other related debris may damage and/or clog rainwater drainage systems over time. This can cause water to accumulate on rooftops and other areas, which can lead to water penetration and severe roof decay.

Bird excrement also represents an aesthetic problem. Because of the corrosive nature of bird droppings, the excrement can quickly deface building finishes, park benches, statues, cars, ledges, and entryways. This defacement is not only objectionable to the public, but it also accelerates deterioration. If bird excrement is allowed to build up, it makes for a slippery and unsafe footing on walkways and other building entryways. Moreover, a bird infestation not only places the general public at risk, but also employees and building occupants.

R. Brett Madden, No Fly Zone Inc.
(brett@noflyzoneinc.com)

 

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Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
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04/21/2014

Lighting fixes target the bottom line.

04/16/2014

The U.S. Army plans to start development of a solar array that will provide about 25% of the annual installation electricity requirement of Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

04/15/2014

The EPA's annual greenhouse gas emissions report is now available.

04/14/2014

Are you what some would call a “climate-change denier”? If so, you'll want to read this.

04/10/2014
Los Angeles has remained the top city for ENERGY STAR certified building since 2008, while Washington, D.C. continues to hold onto second place for the fifth consecutive year, according to a new list released by the EPA.
04/09/2014
Green construction has grown massively over a short period of time.
04/07/2014
Field demonstrations of newly proven energy-efficient technologies are yielding valuable results for the U.S. Navy, helping it meet energy goals.
04/03/2014
Building owners in Chicago now have more options when it comes to getting their building energy data verified.
04/01/2014
According to a new report from Eaton, such outages are up 15% in 2013 over 2012 and over half of those surveyed believe that downtime could have been prevented.
03/31/2014
The newly revised ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 105-2014, Standard Methods of Determining, Expressing, and Comparing Building Energy Performance and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, aims to provide a consistent method of measuring, expressing, and comparing the energy performance of buildings.
03/27/2014
Facility managers face an every expanding array of sustainability choices and challenges, but for the next generation of FMs, green practices could be second nature as sustainability literacy enters the K-12 school system.
03/25/2014
While the economic recession explains the decline in sales in 2008 and 2009, it is much less clear why sales have continued to fall.
03/24/2014
University of Washington (UW) scientists have built the thinnest known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics.
03/21/2014
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2378 into law, effectively enacting the state’s first building code.
03/19/2014
In an attempt to improve building energy performance, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released a web-based tool called the Technology Performance Exchange, or TPEx.
03/18/2014
Could green building practices pose unanticipated life-safety hazards?
03/13/2014
Worried about workplace violence in your facility? Researchers have discovered that “mindfully observing” high-risk employees can avert danger and workplace violence.
03/11/2014
Through the DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program, every dollar the DOE has spent on building energy codes over the past two decades has resulted in $400 in energy cost savings.
03/07/2014
It is possible to harvest energy from Earth's thermal infrared emission into outer space, according to new research from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
03/05/2014
Is your building prepared to handle an emergency?
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