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Hydrogen Sulfide Gas Emissions in the Human- Occupied Zone during Disturbance and Removal of Stored Spent Mushroom Compost

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 19(4): 277-291. (doi: 10.13031/jash.19.10444) @2013
Authors:   Balasubramanian Velusami, Thomas P. Curran, Helen M. Grogan
Keywords:   Hydrogen sulfide, Health and safety, Spent mushroom compost, Tractor driver.

Abstract. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas levels were monitored in the human-occupied zone at four spent mushroom compost (SMC) storage sites during removal of SMC for application on agricultural land. During SMC removal operations, H2S gas monitors were mounted on the outside of the tractor, positioned at the SMC periphery, and worn by individual tractor drivers. The highest H2S concentrations (10 s average) detected outside the tractor, at the SMC periphery, and for the tractor driver were, respectively, 454, 249, and 100 ppm for the outdoor sites and 214, 75, and 51 ppm for the indoor sites. The highest short-term exposure values (STEV, over a 15 min period) outside the tractor, at the SMC periphery, and for the tractor driver were 147, 55, and 86 ppm for the outdoor sites and 19, 9, and 10 ppm for the indoor sites. The values exceeded the current maximum permissible concentration limit of 10 ppm for all the sites except for the SMC periphery and tractor driver at the indoor sites. Results suggest that H2S levels detected at indoor storage sites during SMC removal are lower compared to outdoor storage sites. Results indicate that there is a substantial health and safety risk associated with working in the vicinity of stored SMC when it is being disturbed and removed for land application, and that the risk is great for the tractor driver. This article discusses possible control measures and lists recommendations to reduce the risks.

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