The Department of Health has established a monitoring programme to protect the public from the potential health threats posed by the mass burial pits created during the foot and mouth crisis. In a bid to contain the foot and mouth virus, the government has now slaughtered around three million animals, but disposal of the carcasses has proved problematic. Many have been rendered or burned, raising fears that carcinogenic dioxins will pollute the air. Others were placed in huge burial pits meanwhile, and experts pointed out that these held the possibility of contaminating water supplies.