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Passive monitors to measure hydrogen sulfide near concentrated animal feeding operations.

Pavilonis BT; O'Shaughnessy PT; Altmaier R; Metwali N; Thorne PS
Environ Sci Process Impacts 2013 Jun; 15(6):1271-1278
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is one of many airborne pollutants emitted by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). However, few studies have characterized ambient H2S levels near these facilities, largely due to the lack of low-cost, reliable, and easily transportable instrumentation available to researchers. We determined intermediate environmental H2S exposure near CAFOs using Radiello passive monitors. First, a laboratory study was performed to determine the accuracy of the device. Next, a total of eight passive H2S monitors were deployed bi-weekly in close proximity (<40 m) to a medium-sized swine confinement for seven months in order to determine the temporal and spatial variability of H2S. Finally, we measured H2S concentrations across two rural Iowa counties to characterize ambient exposure near thirteen CAFOs and two schools. The value of the temperature-adjusted H2S passive diffusion rate provided by the supplier was 29% larger than the 24 h rate determined experimentally. Concentrations of H2S measured near the medium-sized confinement were varied and ranged from 0.2 to 48.6 ppb depending on the sampling period and proximity to a lagoon on the property. Two-week concentrations near the schools were low (<1 ppb), while concentrations near the thirteen CAFOs ranged from 0.1 to 42.9 ppb. The passive monitors were effective in measuring H2S concentrations near a swine CAFO as long as they were exposed for a sufficient period of time (two weeks). Radiello passive monitors are a promising new device in measuring intermediate H2S exposure in rural populations. Measured values in excess of an Iowa state limit of 30 ppb (24 h average) suggest that enforcement actions are needed to mitigate H2S migration from swine CAFOs.
Airborne dusts; Airborne particles; Air contamination; Pollutants; Animals; Environmental exposure; Exposure levels; Risk factors; Monitors; Sampling; Environmental pollution; Equipment design; Analytical processes; Livestock; Livestock industry
Brian T. Pavilonis, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Grant
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U50-OH-007548; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U54-OH-007548; M122013 Grant-Number-T42-OH-008491
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
Source Name
Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts
Performing Organization
University of Iowa, Iowa City
Page last reviewed: March 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division