Be aware of deadly 'pit gas' in hog finishing buildings

US - Applying nutrients from hog facilities on crop fields has many advantages, but one life-threatening disadvantage: Pit gas.
calendar icon 6 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

Anyone working around finishing facilities and concrete manure storage should know the dangers of concentrated hydrogen sulfide, or pit gas. However, on a busy day, it can become easy for the operator to forget the steps to stay safe from the deadly concentrated gas, according to Monte Fuhrman, DVM, with Sioux Nation Ag Centers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Hydrogen sulfide is produced, Fuhrman says, by anaerobic bacteria in manure storage facilities. It's largely harmless until agitated, when it can move from manure storage to other parts of a hog facility. Even at small concentrations, pit gas can be deadly. If in high enough concentrations, ydrogen sulfide toxicosis can cause immediate nervous paralysis.

"It can normally be detected in swine buildings in amounts less than 10 parts per million," Fuhrman says. "It becomes a threat to life if concentration in an air space exceeds 500 ppm. It irritates mucous membranes at all levels. It is absorbed by the lung and causes acute nervous paralysis when in high concentration. It also causes acute cyanosis, convulsive spasms and death."


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