Pigeons and Guano

Bird guano, is it hazardous? Absolutely all you need to know!

Guano is accumulated excrement and remains of birds, bats, and seals. Guano goes by many different names and regardless of what you call them, moniker of droppings, mess or maybe poo, what really does matter is that guano is highly toxic and even in small amounts can be harmful to human health. In the UK derelict buildings provide the ideal roosting ground for birds, especially pigeons and sea gulls.

Bird droppings pose a particular health hazard when it comes to demolition and refurbishment of buildings. When these microscopic spores from the dried bat guano are inhaled by humans, they can cause a serious respiratory disease called histoplasmosis.

The ideal approach to bird mess is to remove the source of the problem by utilising many of the bird deterrent solutions that are available, which will include the likes of bird spikes and acoustic deterrents, however bird guano can still cause a tremendous problem.

Diseases associated with guano?


Guano, how bad does it need to be?



Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a fungus called Histoplasma. The fungus lives in the environment, particularly in soil that contains large amounts of bird or bat droppings.

In most cases, histoplasmosis causes mild flu-like symptoms that appear between 3 and 17 days after exposure to the fungus. These symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, cough and chest discomfort.


Psittacosis is an infection of birds caused by the bacterium Chlamydia psittaci.

The disease has been described in many species of birds, particularly in parrots, parakeets, budgerigars and cockatiels. Other commonly affected birds include pigeons and doves. Ducks and turkeys may also be affected, but chickens less frequently. Psittacosis is an acute respiratory disease with an incubation period of between 1 and 4 weeks.

It typically causes flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, muscle aches) but can lead to severe pneumonia and non-respiratory health problems.


Salmonella is also present in some bird droppings, more commonly referred to as food poisoning, salmonellosis can be traced back to bird guano. It is a bacterial infection that can cause significant diarrhoea. The disease bacteria are found in bird droppings; dust from droppings can be sucked through ventilators and air conditioners, contaminating food and cooking surfaces in restaurants, homes and food processing plants.

While it’s not usually fatal, typical symptoms of the disease include diarrhoea, fever, and abdominal pain. These usually occur within 8 to 72 hours of being exposed to the pathogen and could last for several days.

Guano in the built environment…


Guano. Externally of a recent survey.

Certain job roles will leave you more likely to be exposed to harmful bird guano than in others, if your work is outside for example then the risk may be greater, than if you are cleaning guano at home. If you work in buildings undertaking refurbishments you are more likely to come across and disturb guano, you need to assess the risks and implement controls to minimise the disturbance.

Working safely with guano?

It is important to take a few steps before you begin any cleaning process. Ensure that you make, update and ensure a risk assessment is appropriate of the dangers posed. If you provide refurbishment, building maintenance or demolition work of old buildings these can be higher risk sites of airborne particles. In the same way in your own home, there may be a lower density of particles, but this is an area where you


Guano. Internally of a recent survey.

also sleep and eat.

It is vital to ensure that if significant levels of bird droppings are present, that those who have weakened immune symptoms including individuals with autoimmune diseases are protected from the risks posed by bird guano, as they may have a higher risk of contracting the afore mentioned diseases. It might sound obvious but try to limit contact with bird droppings and time spent in areas where bird droppings are prevalent.

Plastic sheeting can provide a moderately effective interim measure against the risk of contamination by limiting the chances of the guano particles becoming airborne. In the same way gloves and even the most basic of masks, and goggles will offer you some personal protection.

Equipment needed for working with guano?

When cleaning guano, as with any other health contaminant it is essential to use the correct tools to both ensure that your work is effective and to also protect yourself.

  1. Disposable overalls that save you from the risk damaging your own clothes and spreading particles after a particularly messy guano cleaning session.
  2. To protect your eyes there are safety goggles.
  3. Latex or protective gloves to reduce the risk of transferring guano to other areas of your body.
  4. A P3 Mask or a disposable dusk mask provide you with a reasonable level of protection, A full face respirator will provide you with an additional level of protection and is highly recommended to those who come into frequent contact with guano, or for those who have a larger job to tackle. Please be aware that some of the respirators are only truly effective when a
    Guano. What tools and how to do it safely?

    Guano cleaning

    tight seal can be made against your skin, therefore it is advisable to be clean shaven when wearing a respirator.

  5. A range of removal tools such as scrapers for removal of hardened bird droppings or shovels for excessive quantities of guano, wire and soft brushes for different stages of the guano cleaning process.
  6. Cleaning solutions. Solutions to aid in the cleaning process, such as concentrated disinfectants that kill the harmful bacteria that can be found in guano are always worth considering as are powerful alkaline degreaser which aids in the removal of bird guano.

It is vital that you protect your face from infection, due to airborne particles or from touching your face which is something that we all do quite frequently and subconsciously. The contact of guano around your mouth, nose and eyes can be disastrous. With the right equipment to protect yourself, you want to ensure that you have the right tools to clean the guano safely and effectively.

For small amounts of guano, you may be able to deal with this by yourself. However, at some point you will need to call in the experts.

Why use Summit Environmental?

At Summit Environmental we are committed to providing advice relating to all elements of safe working with products that can be hazardous

to your health. If you would like further information about the harmful nature of bird guano, how to protect yourself or if you need professional removal, Please contact us at [email protected] for guano removal, guano risk assessments and more advice on guano.

Summit Environmental

How can Summit Environmental help you?

Who are Summit Environmental?

Summit Environmental is a Sussex based consultancy, with offices in Sussex and London and specialise in protection of life, buildings, and the environment.

By working with us, we will help you make sense of the regulations, improve the safety performance of your business, and keep you compliant. Our aim is to provide excellent customer service that exceeds your expectations whilst providing cost-effective solutions.

What can Summit Environmental do for you?

Asbestos – surveys, testing and material removal. We undertake asbestos management surveys, asbestos refurbishment surveys, asbestos demolition or asbestos re-inspection surveys in East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Surrey and London. With testing of materials likely to contain asbestos. We undertake asbestos remediation and remediation management as and when you need it.

Legionella – Legionella Risk Assessments, temperature checks and schematics. We undertake legionella risk assessments, temperature checks, Legionella Control, Water Hygiene Services in Sussex, Surrey, Kent and London.

Fire – fire risk assessments and fire extinguishers, fire alarm checks and fire door surveys. Need a fire risk assessment in Kent, Surrey, Sussex and London, contact us.

Hazardous material sampling – Lead and anthrax testing with other hazardous materials such as PCBs or CFCs in blown foams up to contaminated land services in Sussex, Surrey, Kent, London

EPC’s – Domestic EPC’s in East and West Sussex, non-domestic EPC’s for commercial premises across Sussex, London and Kent, or need a retrofit assessments or green deal contact us.

Floor Plans – For sale or lease of properties to super prime properties to a one bed flat we can cover them all.

EWS1 and Combustibility – Testing and advice on cladding materials. Cladding materials can be Aluminium Composite Cladding, Expanded Polystyrene, GRP, Timber. We can test and provide remediation of hazardous cladding.

Training – Awareness training, online training, day tuition for all of the above.


Contact us on 0203 874 9530 or 01342 835 140
E. info@summitenvironmental.co.uk

What do we often get asked about anthrax?

Is anthrax contagious?

Anthrax is a life -threatening infectious disease called Bacillus Anthracis, that normally effects animals especially ruminants, such as goats, horses, cattle, and sheep Anthrax can be transmitted to humans through infected animals or their products. In recent years anthrax has attracted a great deal of attention as it has become clear that the infection can also be spread by bioterrorist attack, or by biological warfare. Inhalation anthrax is not spread from person to person and even if you develop the symptoms of inhalation anthrax you are not going to spread it to another person, despite it being the most dangerous of forms. If you developed cutaneous skin anthrax, the drainage from an open sore presents a low risk of infection to others. Intestinal anthrax may be seen to be contained within the body.

Are anthrax spores dangerous?

Anthrax spores are certainly dangerous, if people get infected with anthrax spores, when the spores enter the human- body they can begin a process of being activated. When the spores become active, they will begin to multiply and spread around the body. These will start producing toxins and causing severe illness, which can be fatal.

Is anthrax prokaryotic?

Prokaryotic are unicellular organisms, that lack organelles or other internal membrane structures. Bacillus Anthracis which causes anthrax is a harmful cell and falls within the prokaryotic group. Many of the bacteria around us are essential to support human life, and as life forms have been incredibly successful.

Can anthrax kill you?

Without treatment the skin anthrax death risk stands at 23.7%, for intestinal infection the risk of death is between 25 and 75%, whereas respiratory anthrax has a higher mortality rate of 50 to 80%, even with treatment. Historically before the 20th century, and the development of treatments, anthrax killed hundreds of thousands of people and animals every year.

How can you treat anthrax?

Antibodies are the usual treatment for anthrax. The antibiotics would include penicillin, {cipro}doxycycline and ciprofloxacin. In the case in inhalation anthrax the treatment would be taken intravenously.

What causes anthrax poisoning?

A} Anthrax poisoning will be caused by exposure to the Bacillus Anthracis spores. These may be absorbed by the process of respiration, through digestion, or by an open wound which has also been exposed to the anthrax spores.

The bacteria under the microscope look like large rods, however in the soil where they live, anthrax organisms exist in a dormant form called spores. The spores are very hardy and difficult to destroy. The spores have been known to survive in the soil for up to forty- eight years. The bacteria secrete toxins composed of three proteins known as protective antigen, lethal factor and edema factor.

Who are the people most at risk of anthrax poisoning?

  • Veterinarians
  • Livestock producers and farmers
  • Travellers to countries where anthrax is endemic
  • Handlers of animal products, such as animal hides
  • Laboratory personnel that study anthrax
  • Builders/Developers
  • Military personnel and individuals trained to respond to bioterrorists and biological warfare.

Which countries will you most likely find anthrax?

  • Central and South America
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Central and South West Asia
  • Southern and Eastern Europe
  • The Caribbean

Where may there be an additional risk in the UK of anthrax?

Wattle and daub also known as lath and plaster is a building method used for making walls and buildings. In which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle, is daubed by a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay sand, animal dung and straw. The risk of anthrax is very low, but the animal content may still hold some spores.

Is there a risk from horse- hair plaster?

Horsehair plaster is a relatively simple mixture and application process. The plaster is composed of three elements, lime aggregate, animal hair and water, all mixed together before applying to the lath. The historic plaster was normally reinforced with horse-hair, due to the long strands and the additional strength, however hair was also used from other livestock such as cows and goats. There is a small risk that animal hair incorporated into the plaster mixes before 1900 could be contaminated with anthrax.

Questions about Anthrax? Get in touch to speak to us about them [email protected] or 0203 874 9530 

What is an EWS1 form? Is an EWS1 form mandatory? Is funding available for cladding removal?

What is an EWS1 Form?

The EWS1 form and process helps banks ‘make lending decisions on high rise properties with a potential fire risk.

The form, introduced last December, came from collaborations between UK Finance, the Building Societies Association (BSA) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), to ‘create a standardised process that would make it easier for brokers and homeowners to find suitable mortgages. Lenders may refuse a mortgage application where one cannot be produced – this is a commercial decision.

What is an external wall system (EWS)?

The external wall system (EWS) is made up of the outside wall of a residential building, including cladding, insulation, firebreak systems and fixings.

Which blocks need EWS1 forms?

Buildings requiring EWS1 forms include blocks of flats, student accommodation, dormitories, care homes and HMOs excluding hotels.

Does an EWS1 form only apply to buildings over 18m?

While the form applies to buildings over 18 metres, changes in Government advice, introduced in January 2020, meant that all buildings of any height with a wall system may need to be risk assessed – those below 18m if there are specific concerns.

Why are lenders asking for EWS1 forms below 18m?

Changes in Government advice in January 2020, bringing all buildings into scope, mean some residential buildings below 18m which have ‘specific concerns’, may now require an EWS1. Examples include 4-6 storey buildings which may have combustible cladding or balconies with combustible materials and therefore are a clear and obvious risk to life safety and may require remediation in accordance with the latest Government advice.

The two most high-profile fires in the last year were in buildings below 18 metres.

  1. The Cube in Bolton


  1. Samuel Garside House in Barking


Common problems with the EWS1 form?

There has been widespread criticism of the EWS1 form and overall External Wall Fire Review process for several reasons.

  1. The form is being used far more often than intended, on properties where the necessity is questionable.
  2. The process is costly and can be very slow.
  3. There are not enough qualified individuals to complete the forms.
  4. The costs for remedial work are falling to leaseholders who often cannot afford them.

How much does a form cost, and how long does it take?

To complete an EWS1 form can be costly and can be very slow. The cost can be anywhere between £2,000 and £50,000 and could be more depending on height access equipment and complexity. In some areas there is currently a waiting time of up to 42 months. This is because the forms must be completed by chartered fire engineers, of which there are less than 300 nationwide.

A common problem is – The building owner will not undertake the required EWS1 Form assessment. What can you do?

  1. If the building owner does not acknowledge their legal responsibility and refuses to undertake the necessary assessment, the local council can provide further advice, or it should be referred to the Fire and Rescue Service. No one should be living in a building which is unsafe, and the building owners are the ones who can progress this.
  2. Building Owners have a clear responsibility reinforced by MHCLG advice to arrange for the wall system to be checked and have a route to remediation where needed.
  3. Mortgage approval, valuation and insurance on high rise blocks of flats that have external walls consisting of potentially combustible material have been causing difficulties across the market and has been impacting transactions.

Ok you have an EWS1 form, what do the results of the EWS survey mean?

The checks provide five different results across two categories, with:

Category A representing buildings ‘where external wall materials are unlikely to be combustible.

A1 judgement would mean there are no balconies that contain ‘significant’ combustible material

A2 rating is given for an appropriate risk assessment’s completion and ‘no need’ for remedial work.

A3 rating states remedial work ‘may be needed’ on attachments to external walls.

Category B buildings meanwhile are those ‘where combustible materials are clearly present.

B1 rating meaning that post inspection, the fire risk is ‘sufficiently low’ and no work is needed.

B2 rating means an ‘adequate standard of fire safety is not achieved’, with works and interim measures required.

Cladding identified as Category B?

Two types of cladding are possible.

ACM Cladding

There is already a high degree of transparency around the rate of remediation of high-rise buildings with ACM cladding, with the Government publishing a comprehensive Building Safety Programme: Monthly Data Release. The most recent update, issued in May 2020, reported that, of the 457 high-rise residential or other publicly owned buildings over 18 metres initially with ACM cladding, 149 had completed remediation works and 307 were yet to be remediated.

Of the remaining residential buildings, 82 were in the social sector and 180 in the private sector. 140 buildings with ACM cladding were yet to start remediation works, although a majority had a plan in place to do so. The Minister highlighted to us that there was some regional variation in the rate of remediation: in Manchester, 80% of affected buildings have either been remediated or work is on site, compared to around half of buildings in London.

Non-ACM combustible cladding

There is far less clarity on the numbers of buildings with combustible non-ACM cladding. The Local Government Association (LGA) explained that there was no official data on the number of such buildings and that a survey undertaken by local authorities on behalf of the Government was not yet complete.

We do not envisage most residential in scope buildings 1-3 storeys in height requiring an EWS form, unless the type of occupation of the building significantly increases risk to life in the event of a fire eg a care home with elderly people which could not be evacuated quickly and which will necessitate remediation works that will materially affect value.

Current Progress on EWS1 forms?

On 21 November an agreement between RICS, UK Finance, the Building Societies Association and Government was announced such that an EWS1 form will no longer be needed for sales or re-mortgages on flats in blocks with no cladding.

Cladding Funding?

Although coronavirus (COVID-19) is rightly taking front stage globally just now, people and organisations are considering the safety of their properties and their options. On the 11th May 2020, Chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak allocated more money in his 2020 budget for the removal of unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings in England.

The Building Safety Fund is being established worth £1bn of government money in a bid to ensure that unsafe cladding is removed from all private and social housing above 18 metres in height. This is due to be discussed further in Parliament. We will keep you updated as things progress.


In Conclusion?

The fact that such a high percentage of EWS forms are coming back saying that blocks need to be remediated, shows that the cladding issue is far from over. Securing an EWS1 is not the end of the road and leaseholders must be aware that even if they get an EWS1, it might put them in a difficult situation where they are facing huge remediation bills and will still be trapped for potentially many years.

Do you need support, whether you are a surveyor, property manager, local authorities, estates or facility managers, investors or a developer? We work with many structural engineers and certified fire engineers to undertake the required surveys and ensure appropriate sign off of the EWS1. We can undertake

  • Intrusive surveys
  • Combustibility testing
  • Form EWS1 completion and sign off

We also provide support after the completion of these reviews with:

  • Interim measures
  • Remedial action design / review
  • Sign off
  • Site audits
EWS1 Certificate

Fire safety performance of external walls, facades, balconies and the EWS1 Certificate

What is the EWS1 Certificate?

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have issued Advice Notes 14, 18 and 21 for external wall coverings, facades and balconies for residential buildings over 18 metres which has developed into the current External Wall System (EWS) Form.

What does the EWS1 Certificate do?

The EWS1 Certificate is an assessment about the safety of different types of cladding wall systems used in residential buildings in scope located across the United Kingdom. It is not designed to assess other fire safety features or risks.

The external wall survey process and resulting form, is a set way for a building owner to confirm to valuers and lenders that an external cladding system on residential buildings in scope above 18m in height (approx. 6-storeys) has been assessed by a suitable expert. Not every building in scope above 18m will require an EWS form – only those with some form of combustible cladding or combustible material on balconies.

More details

The EWS Form is split in to two options, options A or B:

Option A is for buildings where the materials used in the external wall would be unlikely to support combustion; in this case the signatory would need only the expertise to identify the relevant materials.

Option B is for buildings where Option A does not apply, and a more detailed review and hence higher level of fire expertise is required.

Why is it needed?

The EWS1 certificate delivers assurance for lenders, valuers, residents, buyers and sellers.

Which buildings are effected?

  • Blocks of flats
  • Student accommodation
  • Dormitories
  • Care homes
  • HMOs

How often will an assessment be required?

One assessment will be needed per building, the signed form is valid for 5 years.

What do RICS say?

We do not envisage residential in scope buildings 1-3 storeys in height requiring an EWS form, unless the type of occupation of the building significantly increases risk to life in the event of a fire e.g. a care home with elderly people which could not be evacuated quickly and which will necessitate remediation works that will materially affect value.

What have Summit Environmental Found?

We have recently completed a number of EWS1 forms for our clients. A number of our clients have been requested to provide an EWS1 form even though no combustible materials are present and the building is less than 18m. We have been able to assist and now a number of our clients have now moved onward from their flats.

What happens if combustible cladding is present?

We are currently putting a proposal together for a 6 storey high rise property comprised of 4 blocks of residential properties in London and the removal of polystyrene insulation to the external.

How can Summit Environmental help you?

  • Verify if an EWS1 form is required.
  • Complete the EWS1 form
  • If cladding is present we can complete a more detailed review and advise on remedial requirements.
  • Advise on remedial actions and remove cladding if needed.


Contact Summit Environmental on [email protected]  or 0203 874 9530


Lead Containing Materials

Lead Containing Materials

Most old paintwork is likely to have some lead content and the older the paintwork the higher that lead content is likely to be. Lead-based paint in the United Kingdom was banned from sale in 1992; therefore lead may be present in historic building stock prior to 1992 under modern coverings and coatings.

Lead paints were used in a variety of product types for a range of uses such as on doors, door frames, stairs, banisters, window frames and sills, flooring, pipe-work, radiators, soffit’s, fascia’s and garage doors. These were used both internally and externally to wood, metal and other surfaces.

Lead surveys and assessments are a legal requirement for all commercial building and refurbishment projects wherever paintwork is liable to be disturbed, regardless of the type of building or structure.

Exposure to lead

Lead paint becomes an exposure risk when it is damaged or disturbed such as during refurbishment and demolition projects. The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 (CLAW) places a duty on employers to prevent, or where this is not reasonably practicable, to control employee exposure to lead. Exposures to lead can occur by inhaling, ingesting or absorbing lead paint chips, lead dust or fumes.

Lead poisoning damages the nervous system (especially in young children) and can cause serious blood and brain disorders. Lead poisoning symptoms may include abdominal pain, constipation, headaches, irritability, memory problems, inability to have children, and tingling in the hands and feet. In severe cases anaemia, seizures, coma, or death may occur.

Lead Testing, Sampling and Assessments

Lead in paint or other materials? Summit Environmental can survey or undertake sample testing and complete lead assessments for the presence of lead in paints and other materials.

Once identified Summit Environmental is able to design and employ safe systems of work, inclusive of full risk assessments to reduce or prevent lead exposure.

For further information on cases where the HSE has prosecuted companies for exposing people to lead;

For further information in the CLAW 2002 Regulations see;

Asbestos survey

What is asbestos surveying?

What is asbestos surveying?
The purpose of an asbestos survey is to help manage asbestos in the duty holder’s premises. The survey has to provide sufficient information for an asbestos register and plan to be prepared, a suitable risk assessment to be carried out and a written plan to manage the risks to be produced.

What is an asbestos survey?
An asbestos survey is a visual inspection of a property or premises for asbestos, samples may need to be taken to identify is materials contain asbestos.

What are the types of asbestos survey?
There are two main types of asbestos survey to identify asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) within properties;

Management Survey
The purpose of an asbestos management survey is to manage ACM’s during the normal occupation and use of premises.
A Management Survey aims to ensure that:
• Nobody is harmed by the continuing presence of ACM in the premises or equipment
• That the ACM’s remain in good condition
• That nobody disturbs it accidentally
The Survey must locate ACM’s that could be damaged or disturbed by normal activities, by foreseeable maintenance, or by installing new equipment. It involves minor intrusion and minor asbestos disturbance to make a Materials Assessment.

Refurbishment / Demolition Survey
The Refurbishment / Demolition Surveys are required where the premises, or part of it, need upgrading, refurbishment or demolition.
A Refurbishment / demolition Survey aims to ensure that:
• Nobody will be harmed by work on ACM’s in the premises or equipment
• Such work will be done by the right contractor in the right way
The asbestos survey must locate and identify all ACM’s before any structural work begins at a stated location or on stated equipment at the premises. It involves destructive inspection and asbestos disturbance.

Do you know if you have asbestos in your premises? Contact Summit Environmental to find out.