Dossier

Fine particulates and endotoxins emitted from livestock facilities

The air in livestock facilities has high concentrations of fine particulates. These particulates contain compounds such as endotoxins — remnants of dead bacteria — and micro-organisms. When inhaled, these endotoxins and particulates can affect people's health. The sources of these contaminants are manure, litter, feed, feathers, dander and animal hair and urine.

Particulates, which are emitted outside through stall ventilation, can present a health risk to local residents. After studying the sources of these particulates, Wageningen University & Research developed special methods for measuring particulate matter concentrations. Wageningen University & Research also developed technical measures to control fine particulate emissions and thus to improve air quality in livestock facilities.

Dispersal of particulate matter and endotoxins outside of livestock facilities

Stalls release particulates through outbound ventilation air that contains endotoxins: the remnants of dead bacteria. When inhaled, these endotoxins can affect people's health. Wageningen University & Research is collaborating with two other partners on research into the dispersal of particulate matter and endotoxins. A literature study, field measurements and computation models are all helping to determine particulate concentration levels at a certain distance leeward (downwind) from a stall. These measures will also help determine whether a dispersion model is a viable method for testing the potential health risks to the environment posed by a new stall. Researchers are carrying out ongoing research to refine this dispersion model in current studies.

Reducing particulate matter, endotoxin and pathogen emissions

Poultry farms are especially responsible for emitting large quantities of particulate matter. This was the impetus to carry out a comprehensive five-year research programme that resulted in the development of a range of reduction techniques that were tested in experimental pilot stalls and validated by measurements taken from active livestock facilities. Read more about the available measures in the Dutch brochure ‘Schone lucht voor iedereen - Maatregelen om de fijnstofuitstoot in de pluimveehouderij terug te dringen’.

Further background information and the results from this research programme can be found in various research reports and scientific articles.

Sources of particulate matter in livestock facilities

The air in livestock facilities contains numerous particulates. Wageningen University & Research studied the sources of this particulate matter. The results demonstrate that the major source of particulates in the poultry sector originate from manure and feathers. For pigs, the most important sources of the particulates are manure and dander. And for cattle, the main sources include manure, straw, litter, feed and roughage. Read more about the research into the particulate sources in a report and a scientific article (in Dutch):

Reducing particulate matter emissions from poultry farms

Poultry farms are especially responsible for emitting large quantities of particulate matter. This was the impetus to carry out a comprehensive five-year research programme that resulted in the development of a range of reduction techniques that were tested in experimental pilot stalls and validated by measurements taken from active livestock facilities. Read more about the available measures in the Dutch brochure ‘Schone lucht voor iedereen - Maatregelen om de fijnstofuitstoot in de pluimveehouderij terug te dringen’.

Further background information and the results from this research programme can be found in various research reports and scientific articles.

Reducing particulate matter emissions from pig farms

Measures to reduce the particulate matter concentrations in pig farms, together with investment and annual costs, have been studied by Wageningen University & Research at Varkens Innovatie Centrum Sterksel (the Sterksel pig innovation centre). See the reports below to read about the action plan developed by Wageningen University & Research as well as the results of this research conducted by WUR.

Particulate matter emissions from livestock facilities

Particulate matter was studied at forty livestock facilities that held poultry, pigs, cattle or minks. The concentration and size of the particulates were determined by using a previously developed measurement method. The results of this research have been detailed in twelve reports, one for each animal category or type of stall. These results have been collated in a scientific article that has been included in the literature review 'Stofuitstoot uit stallen'.

Measuring airborne particulate matter in livestock facilities

It is difficult to measure the quantity of airborne particulates around livestock facilities due to their high particulate matter concentrations. Standard methods for measuring outdoor air, therefore, are not suitable for this purpose. Wageningen University & Research developed a special method to measure the air in livestock facilities. This method was compared with the European standard method (as defined in the EN 12341 and EN 14907 standards), and it was found to provide similar results. Read more about the development of the special method to measure the air in livestock facilities in this report:

The comparison studies were published in an article in a scientific journal:

Read more about this project about endotoxins and the health of animals and humans