Exposure assessment to airborne endotoxin, dust, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide in open style swine houses

C. W. Chang, H. Chung, C. F. Huang, H. J.J. Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Citations (Scopus)


Information is limited for the exposure levels of airborne hazardous substances in swine feed buildings that are not completely enclosed. Open-style breeding, growing and finishing swine houses in six farms in subtropical Taiwan were studied for the airborne concentrations of endotoxin, dust, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. The air in the farrowing and nursery stalls as partially enclosed was also simultaneously evaluated. Three selected gases and airborne dusts were quantified respectively by using Drager diffusion tubes and a filter-weighing method. Endotoxin was analyzed by the Limulusamoebocyte lysate assay. Average concentration of airborne total endotoxin among piggeries was between 36.8 and 298 EU/m3, while that for respirable endotoxin was 14.1-129 EU/m3. Mean concentration of total dust was between 0.15 and 0.34 mg/m3, with average level of respirable dust of 0.14 mg/m3. The respective concentrations of NH3, CO2 and H2S were less than 5 ppm, 600-895 ppm and less than 0.2 ppm. Airborne concentrations of total dust and endotoxin in the nursery house were higher than in the other types of swine houses. The finishing house presented the highest exposure risk to NH3, CO2 and H2S. Employees working in the finishing stalls were also exposed to the highest airborne levels of respirable endotoxin and dust. On the other hand, the air of the breeding units was the least contaminated in terms of airborne endotoxin, dust, NH3, CO2 and H2S. The airborne concentrations of substances measured in the present study were all lower than most of published studies conducted in mainly enclosed swine buildings. Distinct characteristics, including maintaining swine houses in an open status and frequent spraying water inside the stalls, significantly reduce accumulation of gases and airborne particulates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-465
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Occupational Hygiene
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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