Manure Gases are DEADLY

Date: August 18, 2016

Source: Richard Gates, 217-244-2791,

News Writer: Leanne Lucas, 217-244-2862,

  • Hydrogen sulfide and methane gasses from liquid/slurry stores can be lethal.
  • Remember key safety rules before agitating and emptying manure stores
  • Make sure new or inexperienced workers are trained in safety

Make manure safety a priority after harvest

URBANA, Ill. - With harvest around the corner, manure application follows, so it's a good time to remember manure safety, says Rich Gates, professor and Extension specialist at the University of Illinois. "Any liquid/slurry stores, when agitated, will release toxic hydrogen sulfide and methane gasses that can be lethal. This week, during agitation of a large manure storage tank in Wisconsin, a young farmer was killed from manure gas, along with 16 cows.

"Although this tragedy was truly an aberration, according to reports," says Gates, "it is important to remember the key safety rules when agitating and emptying manure stores. These rules include taking steps to promote a ventilation, removing workers and if possible animals, from buildings or nearby downwind structures, and starting the agitation slowly and watching for any harmful effects. Never enter an enclosed manure store without appropriate precautions, and be mindful that you can be overcome with a single breath if concentrations are high."

Gates notes that two fact sheets, "Safe Manure Removal Policies" and "Manure Storage Entering Procedures" are available free online from the National Pork Board and U of I Extension's ag safety website. He adds, "Don't forget the importance of ensuring that new or inexperienced workers are also trained in safety."