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Monday, April 2, 2012

Manure Gases Kill- No Sh**!

OMAFRA Pork News Cites Health Precautions!

April Pork News from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, warns:
Many human and even more swine deaths in the past few years have been attributed to manure gas exposure.

Student Labourers in Unfamiliar Surroundings May Be at Higher Risk

With summer soon approaching,and students seeking temporary employment, it is extremely important they be aware of precautions that should be in place to protect their health and safety when working around liquid manure. OMAFRA warns that everyone working in and around liquid manure needs to understand what properties and risks are associated with each of the manure gases, so the danger of a tragic incident can be reduced. So what are these manure gases?

4 Dangerous Gases in Liquid Manure- 3 Lethal!

Liquid manure stored for one week or more contains four principle gases: Hydrogen Sulfide, Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Ammonia. While all four gases are by-products of the decomposition of organic matter, the production of these gases is influenced primarily by temperature, pH, and time. OMAFRA cautions that although there are products claiming to reduce manure gas levels; none have been scientifically proven effective in eliminating the risks associated with manure gases.

How Lethal Are These Manure Gases?

Whenever manure is moved, handled, or agitated, there is an increased danger of excessive gas exposure.
• Hydrogen Sulfide-one breath can kill.At levels over 500ppm it is undetectable,and instantly released if shaken.Soluble in liquid manure if you hear a splash, there is gas!
• Carbon Dioxide - death by asphyxiation follows unconsciousness. Carbon Dioxide is completely odorless, and as with Hydrogen Sulfide, soluble in liquid manure if you hear a splash, there is gas!
• Methane - major danger from is its explosive and flammable properties, particularly in double-pitted barns. The pilot light from a box heater, or a spark from a motor or light switch, can result in explosion and/or fire.
• Ammonia - can be a dangerous irritant, it does not accumulate to lethal levels in barns.

Liquid Manure: Pig Behaviour Danger Indicator

Plenty of ventilation is key to decreasing gas dangers. However, the bottom pit in double pitted barns,is usually unvented. If the pit plug is pulled and left out, this near pure Methane built up in the air space, rises into the barn space; quickly building up to explosive or flammable levels. Another ventilation challenge is foaming manure; if you get foaming manure, the foam traps Methane, Carbon Dioxide and Hydrogen Sulfide that would normally be removed by the ventilation system.
Pigs, since they breathe close to the slats, are often more susceptible than humans. If there is any unusual pig activity during any manure agitation or transfer, immediately stop and evacuate the building.

Liquid Manure: Safety Recommendations

While the agitation of pigs may provide a late indicator of trouble, OMAFRA highly recommends people working with liquid manure wear at least a Hydrogen Sulfide detector. A good recommended upgrade is a multi-gas detector for Hydrogen Sulfide, Carbon Monoxide, Oxygen and Lower Explosive Limit or LEL, which is good for Methane detection.
For full information on these dangerous gases, as well as other dangerous gases on farms, read the OMAFRA Hazardous gases fact sheet.

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