Microbial air pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) has raised concerns about potential public health and environmental impacts. We investigated the levels of bioaerosols released from two swine farms using conventional lagoon-sprayfield technology and ten farms using alternative waste treatment and management technologies in the United States. In total, 424 microbial air samples taken at the 12 CAFOs were analyzed for several indicator and pathogenic microorganisms, including culturable bacteria and fungi, fecal coliform, Escherichia coli, Clostridium perfringens, bacteriophage, and Salmonella. At all of the investigated farms, bacterial concentrations at the downwind boundary were higher than those at the upwind boundary, suggesting that the farms are sources of microbial air contamination. In addition, fecal indicator microorganisms were found more frequently near barns and treatment technology sites than upwind or downwind of the farms. Approximately 4.5% (19/424), 1.2% (5/424), 22.2% (94/424), and 12.3% (53/424) of samples were positive for fecal coliform, E. coli, Clostridium, and total coliphage, respectively. Based on statistical comparison of airborne fecal indicator concentrations at alternative treatment technology farms compared to control farms with conventional technology, three alternative waste treatment technologies appear to perform better at reducing the airborne release of fecal indicator microorganisms during on-farm treatment and management processes. These results demonstrate that airborne microbial contaminants are released from swine farms and pose possible exposure risks to farm workers and nearby neighbors. However, the release of airborne microorganisms appears to decrease significantly through the use of certain alternative waste management and treatment technologies. ?? 2008 American Chemical Society.
Additional publication details
Investigation of bioaerosols released from swine farms using conventional and alternative waste treatment and management technologies