Decontamination work might have to be carried out as bin strike ends in Edinburgh

Decontamination work might have to be carried out in Edinburgh to guard against deadly bugs as bin strikes end today, it was warned.

Industrial action in the capital is due to end on today (Tue) after 12 days, which saw hoards of rubbish piled up around the city.

But Public Health Scotland (PHS) has warned against the potentially lethal bacteria in rotting rubbish and invasions of vermin attracted by food scraps.

Bosses said a build-up of organic waste, including food scraps, animal and human excrement from nappies and dog-poo bags, ‘can become a risk to human health’.

It advised that councils may have to carry out ‘decontamination’ of areas where bins have spilled out into public areas.

Decontamination could include work such as pressure-washing pavements, deploying pest control services or spraying areas with disinfectants.

PHS said: “Strike action involving local authority waste management staff has resulted in an accumulation of waste in public areas, within people’s homes and other premises.

“It is anticipated that further strikes may take place across Scotland, resulting in more widespread waste accumulation.

“The impact of waste on health is varied and may depend on numerous factors, including the nature of the waste and weather conditions that may accelerate decomposition of waste.

"If organic waste builds up it can become a risk to human health.

"Organic waste includes food waste, animal waste (from food or excrement), human waste (including nappies) and manure.

"Public Health Scotland has made some recommendations to local authorities to help limit the impact of waste on public health, including the fact that decontamination of public areas where bins have overflowed may be required."

According to research, rubbish bins are major breeding grounds for a host of bacteria, which cause debilitating stomach upsets.

These include the likes of salmonella and Legionella, which are relatively common, as well as more dangerous ‘superbugs’ like E.coli, Clostridium and Listeria.

These bacteria can cause gastroenteritis, but can also result in more severe infections – such as septicaemia and even meningitis.

Foxes, seagulls, rats and other vermin are also attracted to rubbish, potentially picking up and spreading diseases.

Actions will be decided ‘on a case-by-case basis’ in Edinburgh once rubbish collections get started and debris is cleared away.

The city said additional resources will be rolled out to assist with the clear-up.

Residents are being asked to put their bins out as normal on their scheduled collection day, when extra waste will be collected if it is bagged.

PHS also warned the risk of fire may be heightened due to accumulation of waste.