College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Andersen: Producers alerted to hydrogen sulfide dangers

An Iowa father and son and a Wisconsin father and son died in July when they were overcome by hydrogen sulfide gas in manure pits. In both cases, one went into the pit to work on or retrieve equipment and was overcome. The others went in to help.

Hydrogen sulfide is a serious issue, said Dan Andersen, an ag and biosystems engineering professor at Iowa State University. He and Renee Anthony, an occupational and environmental health professor at the University of Iowa, reviewed the dangers of manure gases and outlined ways for producers to stay safe during a seminar at the Iowa Pork Congress in Des Moines.

The decomposition of organic matter in manure results in the release of several gases with ammonia, carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulfide among them, Andersen said. Although all are potentially dangerous, hydrogen sulfide tends to be the one of most concern.

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