Dust Control In Livestock Facilities

Livestock facilities are dusty environments. The visible dust particles that we see hanging in a beam of sunlight are so big they can’t reach deep inside your lungs.  It’s the tiny particulate matter that we can’t see that causes allergies and other respiratory problems in humans and animals.

Richard Gates is an Extension specialist in livestock facilities and manure management at the University of Illinois. He says fresh air ventilation is a best management practice for dust control, but it’s also an economic decision as it can cost more during cold weather. In some situations, the inside temperature has to be kept as warm as 80-degrees.

"That’s a very large energy bill," he says. "And so, producers have to balance how much fresh air should they bring in versus how much money do they want to spend on propane, or however they’re heating. Or, if they don’t have heaters, that means they’re going to make the facility much colder and for some species like beef cattle or dairy cattle that doesn’t matter. But for little farrowing piglets or something, that’s just not acceptable."

The most basic line of defense for workers in any livestock facility is a properly fitting particulate mask, and eye protection.

"It’s just the simple white mask that you see with a little metal clip on the nose and two straps in the back. And the other thing that I really like to emphasize is protection for your eyes. I’ve been around livestock my whole life, and often times I feel better the next day if I’m wearing safety glasses than if I wear a mask," says Gates. "So, every person is different in how they develop allergies to different loads that they encounter over their life."