Bad health blamed on plant
A Christchurch man believes his worsening asthma, persistent lung infections and hospitalisation may have been caused by a nearby compost processing plant.
Gordon Fullardmoved to a house in Bromley, east Christchurch, about 600 metres away from the Living Earth composting plant about three years ago. He believes his preexisting asthma has got worse since the move.
He has also struggled with a series of lung infections since the move, including one that put him in hospital for four days and was initially suspected to be legionnaires’ disease.
The site is run by Living Earth but owned by the Christchurch City Council. Council staff said there was no evidence the plant was causing health problems and pointed to a 2015 letter from the Canterbury District Health Board stating there was no evidence of any illness associated with living in the Bromley area or any facility in the neighbourhood.
Fullard, 65, said the plant should be rebuilt away from urban areas.
He said he was not certain the composting plant was the direct cause of his worsening asthma and lung infections but his health had deteriorated since moving close to the facility.
‘‘... all I can say is previously I was never affected this badly with asthma. That is the first time I have been in hospital for anything like that. The smell is bad enough but when it affects your health, it is a different matter.’’
Asthma and Respiratory Foundation medical director Stuart Jones said he did not know the specifics of the case but, theoretically, a composting plant could make asthma worse for neighbouring residents.
Compost processing could create high levels of aspergillus fungal spores, which could make asthma worse, he said.
Chest physician Adrian Harrison believed it was unlikely that fungal spores or bacteria from the plant could cause lung infections but strong smells could trigger asthma.
‘‘That does not sound to me like a locally sourced infection. That sounds like an incredible long shot,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t know any science that would support that.’’