Evaluation of a sprinkler cooling system on inhalable dust and ammonia concentrations in broiler chicken production.
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Workers are exposed to dust in broiler chicken production during daily work activities. Poultry dust may contain inflammatory agents (e.g., endotoxin) and inhalation exposure has been associated with pulmonary symptoms. Current practice to reduce worker exposure to poultry dust is the use of respiratory protection (e.g., elastomeric face-piece respirator with a P100 and ammonia chemical cartridge). Limited research has been conducted to evaluate engineering controls to reduce dust and ammonia concentrations in broiler chicken production; therefore, the purpose of this research was to evaluate the effectiveness of a water sprinkling system to reduce inhalable dust and ammonia concentrations in a broiler chicken house. Inhalable dust and ammonia concentrations were measured daily for the production cycle of a flock of broiler chickens (63days). Inhalable dust was measured gravimetrically using an inhalable sampler and ammonia was measured by a direct reading sensor. Sampling was performed on a stationary mannequin inside two broiler chicken houses. One house used a sprinkler cooling system to deliver a water mist throughout the house and the second house was an untreated control. The sprinkler system activated after day 5 of chicken placement, releasing water periodically from 6am to 10pm. The amount of sprinkling increased at day 10 and day 15 as recommended by the manufacturer. Geometric mean (GM) inhalable dust concentrations measured in the treatment house (5.5mg/m3) were not different (p = 0.33) than those found in the control house (6.0mg/m3). The GM ammonia concentrations were also not different (p = 0.34) across the treatment and control house [10.6ppm (GSD: 1.80); GM 9.51ppm (GSD: 1.77)], respectively. The use of cost effective engineering, administrative and personal exposure controls are needed in the poultry industry to effectively reduce worker's exposure to hazardous concentrations of dust and ammonia.