Hazards conditions to human and animal health can occur in swine barns due to sudden bursts of high concentration hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas released when manure slurry is agitated during removal from sub-floor pits. Studies show that H2S levels can go from harmless to deadly in a matter of minutes during pit agitation (Patni and Clarke, 2003). The goal of this project was to develop and test a portable H2S detection system adapted for use in swine housing that utilizes commercially available H2S sensors. While collecting and analyzing data on H2S concentrations during agitation and subsequent removal of swine manure slurry from under-floor pits, knowledge can be gained about the development of hazardous conditions due to H2S generation.
Several low to moderately priced H2S sensors developed for industrial use were tested in a controlled lab setting. Sensors that performed adequately during lab testing were developed into a portable H2S detection system. The detection systems were the tested in swine houses with sub-floor slurry storage against a calibrated H2S research grade analyzer (Model 45C, Thermal Environmental Instruments, (TEI)) during multiple slurry agitation events in the full-scale swine production houses in the field.
Field test results confirm previous research findings. Intense H2S burst releases can develop rapidly during agitation of sub-floor slurry in swine confinements. This supports existing research on the dangers of H2S burst releases. Ventilation can be used to disperse H2S bursts during slurry agitation. The location of H2S burst releases, as well as the concentration can vary within a confinement. Sub-surface agitation resulted in lower H2S concentrations; therefore it should be used whenever possible to minimize H2S burst releases.
A portable, wireless H2S detection system based on currently available sensors and wireless technology was developed and successfully used to monitor H2S concentrations and manage ventilation to disperse H2S bursts during slurry agitation and removal from swine houses with sub-floor slurry storage.