Health risk assessment of occupational exposure to hazardous volatile organic compounds in swine gestation, farrowing and nursery barns

Neslihan Akdeniz, Larry D. Jacobson, Brian P. Hetchler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Livestock producers are exposed to a high number of airborne pollutants during their daily duties of cleaning, feeding and maintenance activities. Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) are a major group of pollutants that may cause cancer or other serious health effects including neurological, respiratory, reproductive and developmental disorders. In this study, health risks of occupational exposure to eight hazardous VOCs (phenol, p-cresol, o/m-cresol, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, o-xylene, and m/p-xylene) that are most likely to be emitted from swine buildings were assessed using Monte Carlo simulation. The purpose of the study was to calculate emission rates and to quantify cancer and hazard risks of the target VOCs. Cancer and hazard risks were calculated for workers A, B, and C, who spent six hours in the gestation, farrowing and nursery barns, respectively, and one hour in the office space every day. Concentrations of the target VOCs did not exceed their recommended exposure limits (RELs). But, concentrations of p-cresol and benzene exceeded their preliminary remediation goals (PRGs). The highest emission rates in μg s -1 were measured from the gestation rooms while the highest emission rates in μg per s per head were measured from the farrowing rooms. Cancer risks of ethylbenzene, benzene and p-cresol were higher than EPA's benchmark of one per million. Hazard risks of benzene, toluene, p-cresol, and o/m-cresol were higher than the maximum acceptable risk threshold (10-4). Worker B (farrowing) had the highest cumulative cancer (16.6 in one million) and hazard (11-342 in one million) risks. It was followed by workers A (gestation) and C (nursery). Sensitivity analysis showed that inhalation unit risk (IUR) had the highest impact on cancer risk assessment while recommended exposure limit (REL) had the highest impact on hazard risk assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-572
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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