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Biofiltration Removes Airborne Contaminants from Pig Houses

2 May 2013, at 10:02am

CANADA - Research conducted by the Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment has shown biological filtration to be an effective option for removing various contaminants from the air of swine barns, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As part of work conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc scientists with the Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment looked at the effectiveness of an air cleaning system for swine barns based on a biotrickling filter.

The system, developed at the institute's research facility in Quebec City, uses a plastic filter bed which is continuously wetted by a nutrient solution that supports the growth of microorganisms.

Dr Matthieu Girard, a research scientist in air quality engineering with the Research and Development Institute, says it's these microorganisms that transform the pollutants into non-toxic and odor free compounds.

Dr Matthieu Girard-Research and Development Institute for the Agri-Environment:

Maybe not the most important in terms of the environment but the most bothersome for as the local population is by far the odorous compounds so that can be anything from organic pollutants to hydrogen sulfide.

Anything that is associated with swine odors, that was one thing we wanted to remove to improve the relationship with the neighbors.

Other than that, a major problem is ammonia. It's the most important gas in terms of quantity.
It doesn't smell very much, the concentrations in the swine barn, but it can have detrimental effects on the environment and it can be carried over major distances and therefore affect not just locally but much further around the environment.

Other pollutants of interest are for example dust which can have various effects on the environment and on odors and also what we like to call bioaerosols, any viruses or bacteria that are released from swine barns can transmit diseases which can affect other swine barns or even be transmitted to humans.

Dr Girard says scientists were able to remove around 75 per cent of the ammonia and up to 35 per cent of viruses.

He says the results for odors varied but removal efficiencies reached up to 80 per cent, depending on the time and on the quantity of odors

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