Close call on Finger Lakes dairy farm is a reminder of hydrogen sulfide gas concerns around manure storages
Hydrogen Sulfide is a well-documented and extremely dangerous gas that can be found in manure storages. Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) is a byproduct of bacterial breakdown of organic compounds inside a manure storage. It is heavier than air and can concentrate low to the ground or in confined spaces. Any extra source of sulfur on farm has the potential to increase H2S gas production once it reaches the manure storage. Farms that use gypsum based bedding and anti-slip agents have increased risk of H2S gas production. A significant amount of work was performed by the Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District and Town of Benton Fire Department to study the levels of H2S gas around manure storages. Results showed that farms using gypsum products almost always carried higher levels of deadly H2S gas during manure storage agitation and pump-out. Studies also showed deep bedded packs can carry high levels of H2S gas. An incident occurred on a gypsum-using farm in the Finger Lakes region in late fall 2020. A dairy farmer was flushing out gravity flow gutters inside the barn, using recycled manure from the storage. The farm owner was holding the hose at the top end of the gutters while two small children were playing in the barn. Unknown to the farm owner, the children were at the bottom end of the gravity gutters, where H2S gas was concentrating. One of the children told their father her friend was sleeping and wouldn’t wake up. The farm owner quickly realized the danger of the situation and picked up the limp child to take her to fresh air. Luckily the child revived and is well, so a good ending to what was very close to a lethal situation.
For additional information on hydrogen sulfide dangers, contact Tom Eskildsen, Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District, by phone at 315-536-5188 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information and publications can be found on the Cornell CALS PRO-DAIRY website at cals.cornell.edu/pro-dairy/our-expertise/environmental-systems/safety.
Yates County Soil and Water Conservation District and Town of Benton Fire Department
hydrogen sulfide; dairy; gypsum; bedding; safety; manure; storage