Indoor air quality improvements targeting dust, gases, and pathogens in pork production

Principal Investigator:  Matthew Nonnenmann, PhD

Research Team: T. Renée Anthony, Thomas Peters, Jenna Gibbs, Ralph Altmaier, Alejandro Ramirez (ISU)

Traditional Farrowing Room

Traditional Farrowing Room

Test Farrowing Room

Study Farrowing Room

Overview and Relevance

Very few studies have evaluated engineering controls to aerosols and hazardous gases in swine confinement buildings. Bioaerosols in swine production contribute to exposure burden and disease transmission among both animals and workers.  In a previous project, we identified two engineering technologies that improved the air quality in small-scale swine farrowing room: a recirculating ventilation system with air filtration technology and a gas-fired heating system that vents to the outside.

  • The goal of this study is to test proven disinfection technologies (e.g., ultraviolet light [UVC]) within the duct-work of a large scale swine production facility to see if it can reduce the burden of disease in both pigs and workers.
  • The long term goal  is to develop engineering guidelines for the swine industry that will be adopted by builders and swine producers to reduce exposures and improve animal and human health.  We expect that this work will result in novel solutions to decrease concentrations of dust, carbon dioxide and bioaerosols.
Newly installed duct work recirculating clean air in a farrowing barn.

Newly installed duct work handling air in a farrowing barn.

UVC treatment in duct work. UVC has been used successfully in other biosecurity applications.

UVC treatment in duct work. UVC has been used successfully in other biosecurity applications.

In the News

  1. Influenza in the air . . . . what’s new?” M. Torremorell. National Hog Farmer (Dec 23rd, 2016).
  1. Your minimum ventilation rate may be wrong”  Industry Voice by Hog Slat. National Hog Farmer (Dec 16th, 2016).


  • Year 1:  Perform baseline monitoring for dusts, bioaerosols, and gases.
  • Years 2-3:  Install and test new technology (at no cost to the producer) in 3 of 4 farrowing rooms.
  • Years 4-5:  Modify and test the new technology based on laboratory findings on ability to remove viruses and bacteria.
Traditional Heater

Traditional Heater

New Heater

New Heater


Posters Summarizing Results

Baseline results at intervention facility:  2016-17 Baseline Study

Preliminary Studies

See the summary of the preliminary studies for this project here.