Quite often while we patrol on the horses, they have to take a potty break. We are often asked by citizens in the area at the time of the fertilizer deposit if the manure is safe or not. The following is a short answer. If you would like to further investigate the composition and breakdown of horse manure, please download the PDF that is on the bottom of the page.
Does horse manure pose a significant risk to human health?
Horse manure is a solid waste excluded from Federal EPA solid waste regulation because it neither contains significant amounts of hazardous chemicals, nor exhibits hazardous characteristics. The chemical constituents of horse manure are not toxic to humans. Horses’ digestive systems do not contain significant levels of two waterborne pathogens of great concern to human health, Cryptosporidium or Giardia; neither do they contain significant amounts of the bacteria E. Coli 0157:H7 or Salmonella. Fungus, viruses, bacteria, and worms found in horses have never been shown to infect humans and are unlikely to be zoonotic. Finally, the reality is that there are very few horses, and even fewer number of them that frequent trails, streets, etc. People seldom encounter or handle horse manure. Meanwhile, people who do have the occasion to handle horse manure have never been infected by this intimate contact. Humans and other sources within the environment (e.g. wild animals and birds) with their overwhelming population numbers are far more likely than horses to contribute to human health risks.
Manure Happens…Just ask a Mounted Police Officer!
While horse manure may not be aesthetically pleasing, it should not be harmful to human health or pose a significant risk to people when they encounter it on a street or trail. Mounted Officers in the City of Bethlehem make a concerted effort to pick up horse manure that is left by their mounts. However, that being said, horses often “produce manure” while walking without the knowledge of the Mounted Officer. Also, consider that the Officer may have been responding to an emergency call or was in a situation where it was unsafe to dismount the horse. If it was you or a family member having an emergency would you rather have the Officer stop to clean up manure or continue on to offer assistance when time can save a life? Even with all of this information provided, Officers of the Mounted Unit would be more than happy to return to clean up any manure that was missed while on patrol. Our ultimate goal is to serve the citizens of Bethlehem.
For more information, click to download a PDF about Horse Manure.