Analysis of Environmental Exposures in Hoop Structures and Conventional Confinement Swine Barns

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Project Period: 
Collaborating Institution(s): 
The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University
The University of Iowa Office of Vice President for Research
Project Investigator(s): 
Peter Thorne, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, The University of Iowa
Dwaine Bundy, Department of Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University

A major health concern in swine farming is inhalation of toxicants, which may lead to significant morbidity among swine farmers. Exposures to hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, dust and endotoxin have been linked to a number of health problems in workers, including upper airway diseases, lower airway diseases and interstitial diseases. In addition, outdoor air quality in proximity to swine operations has become a major concern in recent years. Neighbor complaints have been increasing as swine units become larger and more densely located in the neighboring community. While health effects related to odors from livestock units are very difficult to determine, the public perception that odors contain toxic substances has resulted in reports of headaches, nausea and other health complaints in neighbors. In recent years, hoop structures have emerged as an alternative method of housing hogs, and appear to have environmental benefits (related to air and water quality) in comparison to conventional confinement facilities. The purposes of this study are to 1) quantify airborne contaminant concentrations and exposure duration in hoop barns and conventional confinement barns controlling for location, season, micrometeorological conditions, animal density and other factors, and 2) to compare the exposure of airborne contaminants around and downwind of hoop structures and conventional confinement structures. The study will be conducted utilizing a pork producing farm with 3-5 hoop barns and 3-5 confinement buildings on a nearby site. The 15-month project will be a joint effort of researchers from The University of Iowa and Iowa State University; field sampling will be coordinated between study staffs, and laboratory analyses will be conducted utilizing labs at both institutions (ISU Odor Laboratory, ISU Animal Science Department, UI Inhalation Toxicology Facility), which specialize in specific contaminant identification and quantification.
CHEEC, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and the UI Office of the Vice President for Research conducted a study titled 'Analysis of Environmental Exposures in Hoop Structures and Conventional Confinement Swine Barns' . The study was an effort to quantify and describe airborne compounds present in both both types of swine production facilities and potential exposures to workers and area contaminations. Research was completed 2000.