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On July 8, 1998, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), Division of Epidemiology was contacted by the Saline County Library concerning a collapsed ceiling in the children’s wing of the library. The library staff believed the collapse was the result of a combination of accumulated pigeon droppings and water damage. The library staff was concerned about health issues that might be associated with library patrons being exposed to pigeon feces.


A site visit to the Saline County Library was conducted by ADH personnel on July 10, 1998. ADH forwarded its recommendations for remediation of the site to the director of the library.[1]

The Saline County Library is an old, renovated theater with a brick exterior. Past renovation involved the installation of a hung tile ceiling covered with fiberglass insulation. The original ceiling was left intact. Visual inspection of the outside exterior revealed many points of possible entrance for birds and other animals. An initial attempt to inspect the attic was hindered by lack of direct access to the attic. An environmental cleaning firm hired by the library placed a long ladder allowing accessibility to the original attic.

Visual inspection of the attic revealed pigeon droppings throughout the attic. Dead bird carcasses, egg shells and nest areas were observed in the attic. Many holes were present in the original ceiling and pigeon droppings and dust were visible on the fiberglass insulation of the hung ceiling below. Evidence of past water leakage into the attic was present throughout.

Pathogens associated with pigeon droppings are Cryptococcus and Histoplasma. Disruption of pigeon droppings releases spores of the microorganisms into the air. Inhalation of the spores is the most likely route of human exposure.


Since the ceiling damage occurred in the children’s section of the library, children were considered as the most sensitive population that may come in contact with the bird droppings in this health evaluation.

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