Concentrations of Bioaerosols, Odors, and Hydrogen Sulfide Inside and Downwind from Two Types of Swine Livestock Operations

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Peter S. Thorne
Anne C. Ansley
Sarah Spencer Perry
Journal Title: 
Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene

Few data on in-barn and downwind concentrations of endotoxin, bioaerosols, and odors from livestock facilities are available, and no studies have compared conventional confinement operations with the more animal-friendly hoop operations. Hoops are open to the environment and use a composted bedding system rather than housing pigs on slatted floors over pits holding manure slurry as in conventional confinements. We assessed airborne toxicants upwind, in barns, and downwind and evaluated determinants of exposure. Inhalable particulate matter, endotoxin, odor threshold, hydrogen sulfide, culturable mesophilic bacteria, culturable fungi, and total airborne microbes, along with wind speed, temperature, and humidity were measured at separate midsized livestock facilities (one hoop, one confinement) in Central Iowa on 10 occasions over 2 years. Significant differences in contaminants were observed between hoops and confinement buildings and across seasons for endotoxin, odors, airborne microorganisms, and hydrogen sulfide. For hoops and confinements, respectively, geometric mean in-barn concentrations were 3250 and 3100 EU/m3 for endotoxin; 1400 and 1910 μg/m3 for particulates; 19.6 and 146 ppb for hydrogen sulfide; 137 and 428 dilutions for odor threshold; and 3.0 × 106 and 1.5 × 106 organisms/m3 for total microbes. Endotoxin, odor, and culturable microorganisms exceeded recommended exposure limits. Reduced analysis of variance models for these contaminants demonstrated differences by barn type, season, number of pigs, and, in some cases, temperature and humidity. Both types of swine operations produced high airborne concentrations of endotoxin, odor, hydrogen sulfide, bacteria, and fungi. Endotoxin and odors were found downwind at concentrations previously associated with adverse health effects.


Thorne, Peter S., Anne C. Ansley, and Sarah Spencer Perry. "Concentrations of bioaerosols, odors, and hydrogen sulfide inside and downwind from two types of swine livestock operations." Journal of occupational and environmental hygiene 6, no. 4 (2009): 211-220. DOI: 10.1080/15459620902729184