No More "Foul" Air From This Chicken Coop
Erin Peabody, (301) 504-1624, email@example.com
May 10, 2007
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If only there were a nifty device that could filter the air leaving chicken
coops to reduce the levels of potentially harmful ammonia, dust and
pathogenic microbes that enter the atmosphere. Soon there may be, thanks to
an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist in Fayetteville, Ark.
Philip Moore, who works in the agency's Poultry Production and Product
Safety Research Unit, has developed and patented a simple scrubber that
cleans air exhausted from poultry houses, as well as from facilities where
swine are raised.
Ammonia can be problematic in these buildings, especially during the winter
months when operators are trying to conserve heat. High concentrations of
the gas have been known to cause health problems in birds, including an
increased vulnerability to viral diseases, reduced growth rate, decreased
egg production and blindness.
Besides its offending odor, high levels of ammonia gas are also detrimental
to agricultural workers. And when ammonia escapes into the atmosphere, it
can contribute to acid rain and increase the amount of nitrogen entering
fragile aquatic systems, which can instigate troubling algal blooms.
Recent reviews conducted for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
indicate that animal manure is one of the largest sources of atmospheric
ammonia in the United States.
Moore's "wet scrubber" is designed so that a solution of aluminum sulfate,
or alum, cascades down a series of wooden slats, grabbing ammonia, dust and
pathogens in the air as it goes. It's capable of netting more than 10 pounds
of nitrogen--as ammonia--in a 24-hour period. This nitrogen can then be
applied as fertilizer to nearby pastures and fields.
The key to the recently patented system is the alum, a proven ammonia and
phosphorus combatant whose antipolluting powers Moore discovered 14 years
ago. While alum is already being used to help raise 700 million chickens
each year in the United States, new air-filtering technologies, being
explored by ARS researchers, are needed.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research
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