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Assessment of occupational exposure risk of workers to dust, gases and noise in swine grow-finish facilities

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

Citation:  Paper number  131620731,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Bernardo Z Predicala, Alvin C Alvarado
Keywords:   Respirable dust ammonia hydrogen sulphide noise pig barns occupational exposure

Abstract. Extended exposure of swine barn workers to noise and airborne contaminants is primarily associated with various health problems. In this study, the actual exposure of workers to respirable dust, gases (ammonia and hydrogen sulphide) and noise in swine production operations was monitored in order to determine the specific activities in the barn that could lead to potential adverse health impacts to swine workers. Experiments assessing the occupational exposure risk of workers to these contaminants were carried out at the barn facility of Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Barn workers were outfitted with a personal monitoring system that included a respirable dust sampler, ammonia and hydrogen sulphide gas monitors, and a noise dosimeter as they performed their regular duties during their workday. From a total of 18 monitoring days spanning winter and summer months, results showed the occupational exposure of barn workers to respirable dust, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and noise while performing their daily assigned tasks in the barn was generally below the respective time-weighted average exposure limits for each contaminant. However, a number of tasks have shown to have great potential for elevated worker occupational exposure risk. Levels of ammonia exceeded the short-term exposure limit (35 ppm) while feeding and weighing pigs. Dangerous levels of hydrogen sulphide were generated when draining manure in the pits. Noise levels exceeded the recommended 15-min exposure limit (100 dBA) while weighing and loading pigs for market. Further studies will be conducted to assess the occupational exposure risk of barn workers to these contaminants in other stages of production such as breeding, gestation, farrowing and nursery.

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