Swine Barn Workers Encouraged to Wear Personal Respiratory Protection

by 5m Editor
11 October 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1618. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1618

The University of Saskatchewan warns, until technologies capable of eliminating airborne contaminants generated within swine barns are developed and adopted, workers need to utilize personal respiratory protection.

Technologies being evaluated by the Prairie Swine Centre, such as a flushing gutter and a toilet conveyer, have been shown to reduce airborne contaminant levels by over 50 percent while others, as simple as regularly spraying canola oil, can cut dust levels to 15 percent of normal but these technologies are slow to be adopted.

University of Saskatchewan Dean of Agriculture Dr. Ernie Barber says, when animals are placed inside a controlled air space, there will be a lot of contaminants produced.

"Those contaminants include gases and dust from excreta, from feces and urine. It includes dander from the animal itself.

It includes feed dust. It includes micro-organisms, some of them pathogenic and some of them not and studies indicate that people who work for long periods of time without any personal respiratory protection in a typical livestock building run a risk of developing both acute and chronic lung disorders.

From an engineering standpoint, then, the long term solution is to look for ways to minimize or, dare I even say, eliminate the most harmful contaminants that are being produced inside these buildings.

A thing that I want to make sure that people know is that, if you are working inside a livestock building today...with the typical technologies that we have today, if you're not wearing personal respiratory protection then you're running a very high risk of getting yourself into health problems.

I certainly encourage people to wear a good two strap mask. Make sure it's fitted well. That's your best protection right now until engineers can get the solutions."

Dr. Barber says technologies to reduce the level of contaminants in swine barns are available but, with the tight profit margins in swine production, any investment that doesn't actually reduce costs or increase productivity and returns is difficult to justify so a lot of these technologies are not being implemented.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor