Kibbutz Teen Dies After Falling Ill From Manure Fumes

The member of Kibbutz Tzora inhaled the fumes while riding a truck carrying manure.

Medics and firefighters evacuating the teenager who lost consciousness after inhaling manure fumes on a truck at Kibbutz Tzora on April 23. Beit Shemesh Fire Department

A teenager who was taken critically ill to the hospital last week after having inhaled toxic fumes from a manure truck died at Hadassah Hospital, Ein Karem yesterday. The boy, 14, from Kibbutz Tzora near Beit Shemesh, had been riding on the truck, which was removing the manure from the kibbutz. Firefighters and a medic who took the boy off the truck found him not breathing and without a pulse; he was resuscitated on the way to the hospital.

Manure from cows, sheep and pigs is considered an efficient way to fertilize soil, but precautions must be taken in its storage, transport and use. There have been reports from elsewhere in the world of deaths of individuals working with the manure. The main risk is exposure to high levels of gases from the manure in enclosed spaces or near open storage containers. This same risk is present for people working in sewage systems where human waste is present.

The four gases that present the highest risk to both workers and people living nearby are hydrogen sulfide, methane, carbon dioxide and ammonia. Exposure to the hydrogen sulfide causes extensive nerve and respiratory damage; high concentrations of carbon dioxide can reduce oxygen and cause suffocation.