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Studying Air Quality Around Large Livestock Farms (Research)

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Studying Air Quality Around Large Livestock Farms (Research)

Air quality on and around large livestock farms is the focus of an ongoing study at The Ohio State University.

Researchers LingYing Zhao and Mike Brugger of the Department of Agricultural, Biological and Environ-mental Engineering, and Glen Arnold, assistant professor and agriculture agent for Ohio State Extension in Putnam County, started gathering air-quality data at three large farms last March. The team also collected data in June and August.

The research is being conducted at a 1,000-head swine finishing facility, a 600-cow dairy operation, and a 100,000-bird poultry farm. Researchers are examining gas levels, particulate emission, and odor concentration. They plan to collect similar information at three additional “large” operations in 2004.

“We’re studying typical farms in Ohio to get a glance at what’s happening,” says Zhao, who specializes in animal facilities and environment. The research will provide information to producers and researchers on air quality in and around large-animal facilities.

The researchers are measuring three gases – ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide – as well as odor and dust. They’re collecting data at 14 points – up to 500 feet downwind from the main facility. Two types of equipment are used for each measurement.

They’re also collecting information on weather conditions, which can have a strong effect on emissions.

“We know that farmers and workers are exposed to gases and dust particles in livestock buildings,” says Zhao. “High air pollutant levels can result in farmers suffering acute or chronic symptoms, including a cough and lung tightening. Lung function can decrease during the exposure. But there’s limited data on the amount of air emissions inside and outside of buildings or around manure storage areas.”

The research is being funded by the Great Lakes Center for Agricultural Safety and the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

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