Skip Navigation

Tox Town - Environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals where you live, work, and play
Animal Wasteen español

What is animal waste?

Farm animal waste comes from livestock, poultry, and dairy production. It can be manure from farm animals or the byproducts of meat processing. It can also be the waste byproduct from inland fish farm aquaculture. Animal waste from meat processing includes hair, blood, feathers, skin, bone, hides, beaks, fat, and fluids. Animal waste can contain organic matter, disease-causing organisms, and odors. It can also contain bacteria and nitrates, which can contaminate drinking water and cause human illnesses.

Farmers frequently use animal waste as fertilizer and apply it to the soil. If too much animal waste is applied, or if it is applied incorrectly, it can pollute lakes and streams, contaminate ground water, and harm human health. 

Pits of animal manure are commonplace on a farm and are useful for cleanup and storage of waste. However, if not properly maintained and ventilated, these pits of animal manure can generate four potentially deadly gases: ammonia, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and methane. As manure decays and ferments, it creates these gases and can cause toxic reactions in people or animals, oxygen depletion, asphyxiation, and even death. The gases can also cause explosions. It can also contain bacteria and nitrates, which can contaminate drinking water and cause human illnesses. 

This description is based on the information found in the Web links listed with this topic.

Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Animal Diseases and Your Health
E. Coli Infections

More Links
Biosecurity for Birds (US Department. of Agriculture)
Harvesting Health: Manure Gases (National Farm Medicine Center) (PDF — 3.37 MB)
Managing Livestock, Poultry, and Horse Waste to Prevent Contamination of Drinking Water (Environmental Protection Agency)
Manure Gas Dangers (National Ag Safety Database)
Manure Pits (California State Compensation Insurance Fund)
Manure Storage Poses Invisible Risks (Iowa State University Extension)

Chemicals in Animal Waste
Are these chemicals in MY community?
Carbon Dioxide
Particulate Matter

Last Updated: November 8, 2016

Interactive Graphic Neighborhoods City Farm Town US Border Regions Port US Southwest