Guano removal isn’t exactly the most glamorous job out there, however the public health risk posed by guano means that its safe removal is extremely important. The term ‘guano’ was coined in Peru where for hundreds of years farmers had collected the white piles of guano from the shoreline and caves where it had been deposited by seals and bats respectively. They realised the nutrient rich compound was ideal to support their agriculture. This is primarily due to the large amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen contained within the guano. Even today the export of guano provides a key resource to the organic farming industry throughout the world. Alongside this it is also a key ingredient in the manufacture of gunpowder, again due to the large presence of phosphorus and nitrogen.
Despite its numerous positive uses guano is almost universally detested within the UK, and rightly so. The main sources of guano in Britain are bats and pigeons. Guano from these animals carries an assortment of diseases which present a danger to humans. Pigeon droppings alone can lead to psittacosis, a flu like condition that can lead to comas and even death in vulnerable individuals. Pigeons are also associated with bacterial infections such as salmonella, E.coli, meningitis and toxoplasmosis. In addition to these illnesses guano poses a danger on walkways where the slippery droppings can lead to accidents. If that wasn’t enough the faecal matter of the birds can cause acidic damage to the buildings that they occupy. All of these health risks make guano removal an important task.
Guano removal has the potential to be highly dangerous if it is not carried out by professionals. The guano must be dampened before it is removed otherwise toxic particles will be released into the air and could be inhaled during the guano removal process. Even when the guano has been dampened operatives are still required to wear face masks while removing the guano in order to prevent the dangers outlined above. This is especially important when operating in confined spaces without good ventilation. After the guano removal process has been completed precautions should be taken in order to try and prevent the return of the birds so that the problem does not simply repeat itself.