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Atmos Environ (1994). 2011 Aug 1;45(27):4617-4625.

Use of AERMOD to Determine a Hydrogen Sulfide Emission Factor for Swine Operations by Inverse Modeling.

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  • 1Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, The University of Iowa, 100 Oakdale Campus, IREH, Iowa City, IA 52240 USA.


This study was conducted to determine both optimal settings applied to the plume dispersion model, AERMOD, and a scalable emission factor for accurately determining the spatial distribution of hydrogen sulfide concentrations in the vicinity of swine concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). These operations emit hydrogen sulfide from both housing structures and waste lagoons. With ambient measurements made at 4 stations within 1 km of large swine CAFOs in Iowa, an inverse-modeling approach applied to AERMOD was used to determine hydrogen sulfide emission rates. CAFO buildings were treated as volume sources whereas nearby lagoons were modeled as area sources. The robust highest concentration (RHC), calculated for both measured and modeled concentrations, was used as the metric for adjusting the emission rate until the ratio of the two RHC levels was unity. Utilizing this approach, an average emission flux rate of 0.57 µg/m(2)-s was determined for swine CAFO lagoons. Using the average total animal weight (kg) of each CAFO, an average emission factor of 6.06 × 10(-7) µg/yr-m(2)-kg was calculated. From studies that measured either building or lagoon emission flux rates, building fluxes, on a floor area basis, were considered equal to lagoon flux rates. The emission factor was applied to all CAFOs surrounding the original 4 sites and surrounding an additional 6 sites in Iowa, producing an average modeled-to-measured RHC ratio of 1.24. When the emission factor was applied to AERMOD to simulate the spatial distribution of hydrogen sulfide around a hypothetical large swine CAFO (1M kg), concentrations 0.5 km from the CAFO were 35 ppb and dropped to 2 ppb within 6 km of the CAFO. These values compare to a level of 30 ppb that has been determined by the State of Iowa as a threshold level for ambient hydrogen sulfide levels.

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