Hydrogen sulphide concentrations in manure pits of dairy barns : The release of toxic manure gases during mixing of manure are harmful for livestock and humans and are deadly at high concentrations. As far is known long-term measurements into the concentration of toxic manure gases from manure storages in dairy barns never took place. The goal of study was to get insight in the long-term course of the hydrogen sulphide (H2S) concentrations in the manure pit of a commercial dairy barn as an indicator for the occurrence of (potentially) dangerous situations in dairy barns by toxic manure gases. Also a short review of the literature was made. During manure mixing the H2S-concentration rises very quickly after the start and leads (very) rapidly to a peak value. Reported peak concentrations of more than 150 ppm H2S occurred frequently. The elevated H2S concentrations remained frequently for longer periods of time (15 minutes). The H2S-concentrations can vary strongly even during periods in which operational circumstances and actions were equal. During pumping of manure the H2S concentrations could also rise, but not as much as during manure mixing. At other times the H2S concentrations can be sometimes slightly elevated. The results from the literature review and measurements at the commercial dairy barn show that mixing of manure leads to such a quick release of H2S that health hazards due the inhalation of toxic manure gases is greatly increased. Taking appropriate safety measures before and during mixing of manure is therefore an absolute necessity for a safe and healthy working environment.
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