Concentration, size, and density of total suspended particulates at the air exhaust of concentrated animal feeding operations

Total suspended particulate (TSP) samples were seasonally collected at the air exhaust of 15 commercial concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs; including swine finishing, swine farrowing, swine gestation, laying hen, and tom turkey) in the U.S. Midwest. The measured TSP concentrations ranged from 0.38 ± 0.04 mg m−3 (swine gestation in summer) to 10.9 ± 3.9 mg m−3 (tom turkey in winter) and were significantly affected by animal species, housing facility type, feeder type (dry or wet), and season. The average particle size of collected TSP samples in terms of mass median equivalent spherical diameter ranged from 14.8 ± 0.5 µm (swine finishing in winter) to 30.5 ± 2.0 µm (tom turkey in summer) and showed a significant seasonal effect. This finding affirmed that particulate matter (PM) released from CAFOs contains a significant portion of large particles. The measured particle size distribution (PSD) and the density of deposited particles (on average 1.65 ± 0.13 g cm−3) were used to estimate the mass fractions of PM10 and PM2.5 (PM ≤10 and ≤2.5 μm, respectively) in the collected TSP. The results showed that the PM10 fractions ranged from 12.7 ± 5.1% (tom turkey) to 21.1 ± 3.2% (swine finishing), whereas the PM2.5 fractions ranged from 3.4 ± 1.9% (tom turkey) to 5.7 ± 3.2% (swine finishing) and were smaller than 9.0% at all visited CAFOs. This study applied a filter-based method for PSD measurement and deposited particles as a surrogate to estimate the TSP’s particle density. The limitations, along with the assumptions adopted during the calculation of PM mass fractions, must be recognized when comparing the findings to other studies.

Implications: The concentration, size, and density of TSP samples varied greatly with animal species, housing facility type, feeder type, and season, suggesting that PM emission data derived from limited measurements may not be readily applied to estimate the overall emission from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). This study also affirmed that particles released from CAFOs is of relatively high density (~1.65 g cm−3) and with diameter mostly larger than 10 µm, indicating that regular PM abatement devices, such as cyclones, fabric filters, or even a simple downward-facing exhaust duct, may be employed to mitigate the TSP emission with acceptable efficiency.