Manure gas: know the risks

Manure gas: know the risks

"If I had not been able to take action, the consequences could have been very different…”

The first day of October was a normal work day for Dutch farm worker Albert Jansen; he was milking while the farmer was doing other chores – feeding, by the sound of the tractor.
Gradually, the milking seemed to take up more and more energy. For some reason Albert was finding it harder and harder to think straight. When he saw the farmer opening the doors in the back of the barn, he suddenly thought of a conversation he had had with another farmer years ago: a conversation about mixing manure during milking time…
Luckily, that memory caused Albert to take action immediately; turning on the fan in the milking parlor, rushing to the farmer to alert him. The farmer stopped mixing manure immediately, but it took a good 15 minutes for Albert before the effects wore off.

“And it has a psychological impact as well”, he says. “Because if I had not been able to take action, the consequences could have been very different…”

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S)

"Many farmers are unaware of how lucky they have been in the past.”

When mixing slurry, the dangerous hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is released. This gas can cause irritation to eyes, nose and throat, vomiting, nausea, and dizziness. And if the concentration rises above 200 parts per million, nervous system depression can occur, possibly leading to unconciousness, coma, and death.
Needless to say, exposure to hydrogen sulfide should be prevented as much as possible. We have all heard terrible stories about manure pit accidents. Still, not everyone seems aware of the hazard in nearby spaces, like the barn and the milking parlor. Albert says:
“You don’t smell or see the danger, that is why people often don’t notice it. Many farmers are unaware of how lucky they have been in the past.”

It is vital to know the risks of manure mixing, and make sure no people nearby are being exposed. Because recognizing the symptoms of exposure is not always enough:
“When you are in a small space with little to no ventilation, that is filled with gas, it can be hard to take the right action before it is too late.” Hopefully, raising awareness of manure gas risks will help prevent more accidents from happening.

That is why we are curious about your experiences as well. Leave a comment for our community: Were you ever in a dangerous situation with manure gas? How do you normally prevent exposure? Thanks for sharing.

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