Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Degree In

Occupational and Environmental Health

First Advisor

Matthew W. Nonnenmann


Indoor air contaminants such as dust and gases are present in concentrations that may be hazardous to worker health in poultry production. Poultry dust may contain inflammatory agents (e.g., endotoxin) and inhalation exposure has been associated with pulmonary symptoms. The current control practice to reduce worker exposure to poultry dust is the use of respiratory protection (e.g., filtering face-piece respirators). Limited research has been conducted to evaluate engineering controls to reduce dust 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 (63 days). 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 5 days after chicken placement and continued through day 63 of the broiler chicken production cycle. The following sprinkler activation program was used each hour from 6am to 10pm: days 5 – 9 five seconds, days 10 – 14 ten seconds, and days 15-63 for fifteen seconds.

Geometric mean (GM) inhalable dust concentrations collected in the treatment house (5.2 mg/m3) were lower than those found in the control house (6.0 mg/m3). The GM ammonia concentration within the treatment house was higher at 10.6 ppm (GSD: 1.80), compared to the control house (GM 9.51 ppm; GSD: 1.77). However, the observed differences were not statistically significant (p = 0.33 and p = 0.34, respectively).

Concentrations of inhalable dust were reduced by 11β when using the water sprinkling system, however the reduction was not statistically significant. The observed reduction in dust concentration was not sufficient to eliminate the need for respiratory protection.

Public Abstract

Workers are exposed to dust and gases in broiler chicken production during daily work activities. These hazardous contaminants are caused from inadequate ventilation and have been associated with decreased lung function. Currently, workers protect themselves by using respirators; however, respirator use in agriculture is relatively low. Therefore, more protective controls should be considered.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate a water sprinkling system that is typically used for thermal stress in broiler chicken production. Concentrations of dust and ammonia were compared within a house equipped with the sprinkling system and one without. Sampling occurred throughout the production cycle (63 days) of one flock of chickens. The sprinkler activated on day 5 and continued throughout day 63; water was released periodically from 6 am to 10 pm and the amount of water increased at day 10 and 15.

Dust concentrations were reduced by 11% when using the water sprinkling system. Although dust concentrations were reduced, the difference was not significant and ammonia concentrations were not reduced. Therefore, workers within the broiler chicken houses are encouraged to continue using respirators when completing daily work tasks.


publicabstract, Agriculture, Control, Dust, Inhalable, Poultry, Sprinkling


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Copyright 2016 Sarah Ashlee Williams Ischer