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Michael Ells - Surface disposal

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Surface Disposal
Michael Ells
Exit Strategies Conference 2010
Sustainable Summits Initiative

Published in: Environment
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Michael Ells - Surface disposal

  1. 1. Exit Strategies Conference Smearing as a Method of Feces Disposal + Public Health Impacts Mike Ells Professor Emeritus Ferris State University Big Rapids, Michigan
  2. 2. The Public Health Impacts of Surface Disposal as a Method of Feces Disposal in Alpine, Temperate Forest and Arid Environments Michael D. Ells, RS, MSPH, DAAS Professor Emeritus Environmental Health and Safety Mgmt. Ferris State University
  3. 3. History…  1995 – Study of surface water runoff in the Muir Snowfield, Mt. Rainier National Park.  1999 – Study of Smearing on rocks in Fell Fields within the Muir Snowfield.  2000 – Study of Smearing on rocks in a Temperate Forest and in an Arid Environment.
  4. 4. 1995 The Muir Snowfield Study Site Climbers, et al Camp Muir 10,200’ 9,400’ 8,200’
  5. 5. History...  1995 – Since the urine from the Solar Toilets at Camp Muir is released to the underdrain of the snowfield, MORA wanted to know if surface water within the snowfield was contaminated with this discharge.  A study the fecal microorganism, chloride and TDS content of runoff from the snowfield was completed.
  6. 6.  I found NONE!  The question then became…  Where did “IT” go?
  7. 7. Predicted Flowpath Analysis (GIS) indicate that we may have been sampling in the WRONG AREA!
  8. 8. When the “urge” Strikes! Feces in the Middle of the Trail to Camp Muir, 22 May
  9. 9. Two Days Later the Trail had Moved to “Accommodate” the Pile! 24 May
  10. 10. 1995 ...  At about this same time NOLS began suggesting surface disposal (smearing) as a method of human waste “disposal.”
  11. 11. History ...  Additionally, there was no Public Health data to support this practice.
  12. 12. The 1999 Project Had Two Parts... Part 1: What happens to feces and fecal microorganisms deposited in snow in the Alpine Environment...
  13. 13. Part 2: The Public Health Impact of Smearing as a Human Waste Disposal Alternative in the Alpine Environment.
  14. 14. Part 1...  6 Specimens were set out on 3 June 1999.  2 “Deep” specimens  2 “Steep” specimens  2 “Flat” Specimens
  15. 15. Deep Specimens...  The objective was to sample snows beneath the feces to determine the downward migration of fecal microorganisms.
  16. 16. Steep Specimens...  The objective here was to determine the rate and extent of down slope migration of fecal microorganisms on a steep snowfield surface.
  17. 17. Flat Specimens...  The objective here was to determine the rate and extent of migrations of fecal microorganisms on a flat snowfield surface.
  18. 18. Deep-1 2 June 1999 Note migration of color from fecal specimen
  19. 19. Deep 2, June 3, 1999, Closer (sorry)…Note Staining
  20. 20. 18 Days of Exposure Note the “Gray” area circled. Evidence of significant desiccation.
  21. 21. SNOWFALL BURY’S SAMPLES…  A snowfall in early July buried the samples and we had to re-establish the 6 samples.  All 1995 data was taken from the 6 new samples.
  22. 22. Sample Collection...  Samples were generally collected late morning or early afternoon.
  23. 23. Analysis...  Samples were analyzed 24 hours following collection.  Plates were counted 24, 48, or 72 hours later : (FC, E.c.), (FS), and (P.a.)
  24. 24. Findings...  Fecal bacteria are washed off to the surrounding snow or ice.  This does not appear to last long nor are the numbers high.
  25. 25. Snow Surface D-1 D-2 6” 12” FC FS 14 34 FC FS 22 640 FC FS 34 8 8/1/99 8/29/99 8/1/99 Downward Migration of Fecal Coliform and Fecal Streptococci
  26. 26. Aerial (Overhead) view of S-2 Specimen (FC, FS) (8/29/99 - 41 Days of Exposure) ND, ND ND, ND ND, ND ND, ND ND, ND All Locations, All Dates = ND FC, FS, E.d., and P.a. INTERPRETATION: % Slope has no effect on the migration of fecal microorganisms!
  27. 27. Aerial (Overhead) view of S-2 Specimen (Fecal coliform, Fecal streptococci) (8/29/99 - 41 Days of Exposure) ND, ND ND, ND ND, ND ND, ND ND, ND All Locations, All Dates = ND FC, FS, E.c., and P.a. ADDITIONAL INTERPRETATION: Wind plays little to no role in the translocation of fecal microorganisms!
  28. 28. Aerial (Overhead) view of F-1 Specimen (FC, FS) (8/29/99 - 41 Days of Exposure) Upslope Downslope Left Right6”12” ND, ND ND, ND ND, 2 ND, ND ND, ND
  29. 29. Fecal Organisms in Feces vs Exposure Time F-2 (Surface Specimen) 1 10 100 1000 10000 100000 1000000 10000000 100000000 1000000000 7/20/99 7/27/99 8/3/99 8/10/99 8/17/99 8/24/99 8/31/99 9/7/99 Date LogofSurvivingMicroorganisms FC FS Ec
  30. 30. Organisms in Feces vs Exposure Time D-1 (Internal Specimen) 1 10 100 1,000 10,000 100,000 1,000,000 10,000,0007/20/997/27/99 8/3/998/10/998/17/998/24/998/31/99 9/7/99Date LogofSurvivingMicroorganisms FC FS
  31. 31. Findings...  Fecal Streptococci have a tendency to survive somewhat longer than do Fecal Coliform’s and Escherichia coli.
  32. 32. Findings...  Flora deep within a fecal specimen survive longer, decreasing at an average of one order of magnitude per 3 or 4 weeks.
  33. 33. Findings...  Fecal Microorganisms can survive in the alpine environment.  Surface Flora Decrease Significantly over time and average one order of magnitude per week.
  34. 34. Findings...  Feces deposited on snow has a tendency to act as a black body and sink into the snow.  Specimens never completely disappeared... (unless covered by new snow!)
  35. 35. S-2 1 August 2 Pieces Broken Off
  36. 36. S-2 15 August Specimen has Broken into 3 Pieces
  37. 37. S-2 12 September Specimen has Broken into > 12 Separate Pieces
  38. 38. Part 2...  The Smearing project began on 6 July 1999 when 4 smears were established in a fell field at 8,200’
  39. 39. TK-1 Smearing Site Prep 6 July
  40. 40. 4 Flat Rocks were first weighed, then smeared with a “pancake/ veneer” of fresh fecal material.
  41. 41. Smears...  Two “Thin” Smears: approximately 2-3 mm thick. TN-1 and TN-2.  Two “Thick”Smears: approximately 4-7 mm thick. TK-1 and TK-2.
  42. 42. TN-1 Twenty Minutes Post Smearing
  43. 43. TN-1 Twenty Minutes Post Smearing - Close Up
  44. 44. TK-2, 20 July 1999. Note desiccation and wasting (on left edge of smear) Two Weeks of Exposure
  45. 45. TK-2 40 Days of exposure NOTE: Dried Smear Mass To the Bottom Left of Rock
  46. 46. TK-2 54 Days of Exposure Hard to See but Dried Smear Mass has Disappeared.
  47. 47. TN-1 31 Days of Exposure Rock appears to have almost been WASHED clean! Smear Flakes visible below + undigested corn.
  48. 48. Loss of Smear Material...  Smear desiccation averaged 84.4% of their Mass  Low loss = 77.6%  High loss = 95.3%  Exposure time was 56 days (8 weeks)
  49. 49. Weight Loss of Smears, 1999 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 6 July 1 August 15 August 12 September Date GramsofFeces TN-1 Tn-2 TK-1 TK-2 68 Days Exposure Time Weight Change Past This Date Seemed to be More a Function of Rain/Snow
  50. 50. Fecal Organisms in Feces vs Exposure Time TK-1 (Smear Specimen) 1 10 100 1000 10000 100000 1000000 10000000 100000000 Jul-99 Aug-99 Sep-99 Date LogofSurvivingMicroorganisms FC FS Ec
  51. 51. Findings...  Smears begin desiccating immediately and virtually disappear within 8 weeks of exposure.
  52. 52. Findings...  Soils surrounding the smears do not become significantly contaminated with bacteria washed from the smears or smear contaminated rocks.
  53. 53. Interpretation...  Organisms succumb to the environmental conditions prior to the breakup and flaking off of the fecal mass.
  54. 54. So What Are the Public Health Impacts?
  55. 55. Public Health Impacts...  Viruses probably do not survive any longer than the bacteria.  Protozoa may survive LONG after bacteria.
  56. 56. Recommendations...  Continue study to verify 1999 results.  Add Temperate Rainforest Component.  Add Dry Climate Component (Eastern Washington Site)  Investigate the possibility of including Protozoa.
  57. 57. 2000 Study
  58. 58. 2000 Study…  2 Study Sites  Mt. Rainier National Park @ Longmire, WA: 7 miles inside the SW entrance to Mount Rainier National Park.  Wet, Humid, Shady, Heavily Forested
  59. 59. Longmire Site Location Map Longmire Area Rainfall = 60-140” year-1
  60. 60. Longmire Study Area Site Map
  61. 61. Longmire Site
  62. 62. Arid Site…  Naches, WA: 10 miles on USFS Road 1400 off HWY 12 (this truly is 10 miles of bad road!)  Hot, Dry, Sagebrush and Ponderosa Pine. Open.
  63. 63. Naches Site Location Map
  64. 64. X X Study Site Location
  65. 65. Naches Site Location
  66. 66. 2000 Protocol Changes… Feces smeared rocks were placed in dog crates covered with ¼” hardware cloth.
  67. 67. Rational… I wanted to be certain that the disappearance was not due to coprophagous (feces eating) animals.
  68. 68. 2000 Protocol Changes…  Within each crate, two Thick Smears and Two Thin Smears were placed  Samples for microbiological analysis were only taken from 1 Thin and 1 Thick Smear at each site during the study.
  69. 69. Rational…  I wanted to be certain that weight loss was due to natural causes and not specimen collection.
  70. 70. Placing the Smeared Rocks in the Dog Crate
  71. 71. Smears Sampled:  N-TN2  N-TK1  L-TN2  L-TK1 Smears Undisturbed  N-TN1  N-TK2  L-TN1  L-TK2 Microbiological Examination Smear Desiccation Examination
  72. 72. Data Collection Dates  Samples were set out on 3 June 2000.  Biweekly weights and fecal samples taken for analysis.  Final microbiology samples taken on 8/9 September 2000: 14 weeks (97 days)  Final data (weight) was taken on 6 October 2000: 18 Weeks (125 days)
  73. 73. Exposure Period… This exposure period was 10 weeks longer than the 1999 Alpine Experiment.
  74. 74. Rocks at both sites were tare weighed
  75. 75. A fresh fecal smear was applied to each rock
  76. 76. N-TK2 L-TK1 Drying evident from the visible cracking. Drying less evident - Smear infested with insect larvae. Naches Site Longmire Site Day 2
  77. 77. On 8 June, following 5 Days of Exposure and a rainstorm. L-TK2
  78. 78. 07/02/2000 (4 weeks) Naches Site N-TN1 Longmire Site L-TN1
  79. 79. 07/15/2000 (6 weeks) Naches Site N-TN2 Longmire Site L-TN1
  80. 80. 09/08/2000 (12.5 Weeks) Naches Site N-TN1 Longmire Site L-TK1 Lens Cover Problem! Funky Mold Growth following a rain.
  81. 81. White Stalks and Dots are Mold Hyphae and Sporangia on L-TN1, 6 October 2000
  82. 82. 10/06/2000 (18 weeks) Naches Site N-TK1 Same (N-TK1) Close-up
  83. 83. 10/06/2000 Longmire Site L-TK1
  84. 84. Results…
  85. 85. Smear Desiccation…  Naches  N-TN2 lost 92.9% of its weight.  N-TK1 lost 97.3% of its weight  Longmire  L-TN2 lost 94.4% of its weight.  L-TK1 lost 87.7% of its weight
  86. 86. Fecal Weight Loss vs Time 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 6/3/20006/17/20007/1/20007/15/20007/29/20008/12/2000 8/26/20009/9/20009/23/2000 Sample Dates WeightofFecalSmearin Grams N-TN-2 L-TN-2 N-TK-1 L-TK-1 Rain in Longmire
  87. 87. Smear appearances were dramatically different!
  88. 88. Naches Appearance… Dry Sponge-like Fibrous
  89. 89. Weight = 2.0 grams!
  90. 90. Longmire Appearance…  Flat  Non-fibrous
  91. 91. Longmire
  92. 92. Because the majority of the rocks still supported some remnants of the original fecal smears, the disappearance of the smears in the 1999 Alpine Study was probably aided by Coprophagous animals.
  93. 93. Soil Contamination…  Initial samples of soils from both sites were free of fecal bacteria contamination.
  94. 94. Soil Contamination…  One type of fecal bacterium was found beneath one Naches smear, one time.  30 Fecal Streptococci were detected on 10 August.
  95. 95. Soil Contamination…  Fecal bacteria were detected beneath both Longmire smears on 3 of 7 sample dates following smearing.  Numbers were highest on 17 June after 2 weeks.
  96. 96. Soil Contamination…  Numbers decreased as the study progressed.  None were found after 27 August beneath L-TK1 or after 10 August beneath L-TN2.
  97. 97. Soil Contamination… Numbers fluctuated from 700’s to 30 to zero to 60 and to zero again.
  98. 98. Fecal Coliforms Contaminating Soil Beneath Rocks Smeared with Feces 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 6/3/2000 6/17/2000 7/1/2000 7/15/2000 7/29/2000 8/12/2000 8/26/2000 Sample Date NumberofFecalColiformsper GramofSoil N-TN-2 N-TK-1 L-TN-2 L-TK-1 Red Lines = Naches Black Lines = Longmire
  99. 99. Fecal Streptocci Contaminating Soils Beneath Rocks Smeared with Feces 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000 12000 6/3/2000 6/17/2000 7/1/2000 7/15/2000 7/29/2000 8/12/2000 8/26/2000 Sample Date NumberofFecalStreptococciper GramofSoil N-TN-2 N-TK-1 L-TN-2 L-TK-1 Red Lines = Naches Black Lines = Longmire
  100. 100. Escherichia coli Contaminating Soils Beneath Rocks Smeared with Feces 0 50 100 150 200 6/3/01 6/17/01 7/1/01 7/15/01 7/29/01 8/12/01 8/26/01 Sample Date FecalBacteriaper gramofsoil N-TN2 L-TN2 L-TK1 Red Lines = Naches Black Lines = Longmire
  101. 101. Survival in Soils…  E. coli does not survive well in soils.  FC survives more than E. coli but less than FS.  This has been demonstrated in past studies.
  102. 102. Organism Survival inside Fecal Smears
  103. 103. Naches vs Longmire THIN SMEARS
  104. 104. 0 500000 1000000 1500000 2000000 2500000 3000000 Initial 2-Jul 30- Jul 27- Aug Sample Date Fecal Bacteria Survival in L-TN1 FC FS Ec Pa Fecal Bacteria Survival in N-TN1 0 50000 100000 150000 200000 250000 300000 6/3/20016/17/20017/1/20017/15/20017/29/20018/12/20018/26/2001 Sample Date Bacteriapergram FC FS Ec Fecal Bacteria Survival In Fecal Smears L-TN1 vs N-TN1 Ps. Aeruginosa was not detected even initially so we gave up looking for it.
  105. 105. Naches…  Fecal bacteria succumbed quickly and populations fell to low levels.  FC were never again detected after the initial smear.
  106. 106. Naches…  FS detected through 8 September at 235 gram-1 (but fluctuated from 45 to that number)  E.c detected one time following initial smearing, on 17 July at 225 gram-1
  107. 107. Longmire… Substantial survival throughout the entire study. At the end of the study there were the following populations …
  108. 108. FC: 384,180 gram- 1 FS: 706,050 gram-1 Ec: 436,090 gram-1
  109. 109. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 FC EC FC Ec 0 500000 1000000 1500000 2000000 2500000 Bacteria per gram Sample Date Organism Bacterial Survival in N-TN1 vs L-TN1 FC FS EC FC FS Ec
  110. 110. Naches vs Longmire THICK SMEARS Bacterial Content
  111. 111. Naches…  FC varied during sampling from 0 to 311,000+  FS levels fell much more slowly but eventually fell to zero.  Ec levels fell, rose and then fell to zero.
  112. 112. Longmire…  FC increased by a factor of 7X initially. This may have been due to an unequal level of FC’s within each gram of fecal material.
  113. 113. Longmire…  FS levels fell rather consistently but were still at nearly 1,500 g-1 before the smear remnant disappeared.  E.c. levels fell 90% in two weeks then to zero for the remainder of the study period.
  114. 114. 0 5000000 10000000 15000000 20000000 Initial 2-Jul 30- Jul 27- Aug Sample Date Fecal Bacteria Survival in L-TK2 FC FS Ec Pa Fecal Bacteria Survival in N-TK2 0 100000 200000 300000 400000 500000 6/3/2001 6/17/2001 7/1/2001 7/15/2001 7/29/2001 8/12/2001 8/26/2001 Sample Date Bacteriapergram FC FS Ec Fecal Bacteria Survival In Fecal Smears L-TK2 vs N-TK2
  115. 115. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 FC Ec FC Ec 0 5000000 10000000 15000000 Bacteria per gram Sample Date Organism Bacterial Survival in N-TK2 vs L-TK2 FC FS Ec FC FS Ec
  116. 116. Overall Conclusions… All smears lost between 88% - 97% of their weight. There were major differences in the appearance and “consistency” of the smear remnants.
  117. 117. Overall Conclusions… Organisms in the Naches smears experienced a much more rapid and more complete die-off than the Longmire smears.
  118. 118. Overall Conclusions… Organism survival was affected by Temperature, Humidity and Solar Radiation exposure.
  119. 119. Overall Conclusions…  Fecal organisms contaminated the soils beneath only one of the Naches smears (FS) and then only 30 cfu’s.  This was probably due to higher heat, more exposure to solar radiation, little or no rain, coarse, sandy soils and to the initially high rate of desiccation.
  120. 120. Overall Conclusions…  Soils beneath both Longmire soils became contaminated more quickly and to higher levels.  This was probably due to rainfall.  Their survival in the soil for a longer period of time is probably due to more shade, lower temperatures, increased humidity, and the organic (humus) nature of the soil.
  121. 121.  Rainfall was noted during the first three days of smear exposure at Longmire with stained water running off from the fecal smear.  This probably increased the fecal organism runoff.
  122. 122. Public Health Impacts
  123. 123.  It was not the intent to test for Viruses, Protozoa or Helminthes.  Since viruses can survive at least as long as bacteria,  and since Protozoa can survive even longer…
  124. 124.  Smearing feces on rocks as a method of “disposal” may, under some environmental conditions, have a tendency to build up not only fecal bacteria but probably viruses and protozoa as well in the “disposal” area.
  125. 125.  Bacteria could be spread to surface water by rain or spread by animals.  This could potentially lead to the spread of human pathogens.
  126. 126.  Smearing would tend to expose the feces and the seeds within, to animals which could then spread them to areas as non-indigenous or exotic species. Another Consideration…
  127. 127.  Smearing seems to be a deceptively simple method of “disposal.”  Much more study needs to be conducted on how quickly fecal organisms would build up in an area where multiple (100’s or 1000’s?) of people would use the area frequently during a season.
  128. 128. Smearing should only be considered in either alpine or very arid areas and under very strictly controlled circumstances.
  129. 129. Ideally, the use of plastic bags to retrieve feces and pack it out is a preferred method from both a Public Health and an Environmental perspective. My OPINION…
  130. 130. We still have a lot to learn about how fecal organisms behave in the environment.
  131. 131. There was also a third project in 2000! Since fecal masses deposited on snow (whole) disappeared… Would the same thing happen to fecal smears on snow?
  132. 132.  This experiment consisted of smearing feces on the Muir Snowfield…  and then sampling surrounding snows and feces until September  Smearing took place on 29 July, 2000.
  133. 133. If you don’t want to look… TURN AWAY!
  134. 134. We tried Smearing with a Snowball
  135. 135. It didn’t work too well because the Feces kept sticking to the snow and was difficult to spread.
  136. 136. We tried smearing with a Plastic Ziploc® Bag as a glove.
  137. 137.  Plastic Bags work better!  We sampled snow immediately following smearing.
  138. 138. 0 20000 40000 60000 80000 100000 Bacteria per ml of melted snow FC FS Ec Ps.a Fecal Organism Levels of Fecal Bacteria in Stained Snow FC FS Ec Ps.a 66,000 FC 90,000 Ec
  139. 139. Two Weeks Later…  Snow Samples 08/11/00  No Detectable Fecal Bacteria in samples of 10, 25, 50 ml of melted snow!  Following August 11, the samples disappeared! (that’s just 2 weeks!)
  140. 140. Conclusions…  We need to take micro samples ~hourly over a several day period of time to determine the length and extent of migration of fecal organisms.
  141. 141. Conclusions…  Fecal smears disappear more quickly than fecal masses on the snowfield.  This disappearance and low fecal contamination levels may be due to the environmental conditions,  And/or coprophagus animals!
  142. 142. Conclusions…  Smearing may be a better method of “disposal” on snow in the alpine environment than simply dropping feces on snow or burying it.
  143. 143. Special Thanks to the Funders and Supporters of this Project!
  144. 144. 1995 Study Report
  145. 145. 1999 Study Report
  146. 146. 2000 Study Report (Arid Environment)
  147. 147. 2000 Study Report (Temperate Environment)

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