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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Atmospheric Pollutants and Trace Gases

Analysis of Air Pollution from Swine Production by Using Air Dispersion Model and GIS in Quebec


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 6, p. 1975-1983
    Received: June 1, 2009

    * Corresponding author(s): joachim.honore.sarr@usherbrooke.ca
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  1. Joachim H. Sarr *a,
  2. Kalifa Goïtaa and
  3. Camille Desmaraisb
  1. a CARTEL, Univ. de Sherbrooke, 2500 Blvd Université, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada, J1K 2R1
    b C. Desmarais, MAPAQ, Direction régionale du Centre-du-Québec, QC, Canada. Assigned to Associate Editor Jan Willem van Groenigen


Swine production, the second most important contributor to Quebec's agricultural revenue, faces many problems. Intensive piggeries, with up to 599 animal units, are used to raise finishing pigs for slaughter. Among the great number of gaseous species emitted to the atmospheric environment from livestock buildings and manure storage units is NH3, which is one of the most important and most offensive with respect to human health. Under appropriate meteorological and topographical conditions, gaseous contaminants can spread and cause a public nuisance—up to a 1-km radius around the farm. To mitigate these effects, the Quebec Government adopted regulations that set minimum buffer distances to be observed by any expansion of an existing or new pig farm. The objectives of this study were (i) to assess the efficiency of the current buffer distance prescriptions in Quebec in mitigating effects of air pollution from swine units and (ii) to identify potential areas for establishing pig farm operations that will not be offensive to people. The air dispersion American Meteorological Society/Environmental Protection Agency Regulatory Model (AERMOD) with receptors distributed at 1.6 km around each source was used first, followed by a spatial geographic information system (GIS) model. Results from the dispersion model showed that the highest hourly concentration with a 99.5% compliance frequency for a single farm was 3078.1 μg/m3 and exceeded the NH3 odor criterion hourly standard set by the Quebec Government at 183.4 μg/m3 Thus, for public safety, densely populated areas like housing developments must be located >1300 m from a pig farm. This distance is in the range of setback distances (723 to 1447 m) obtained by using abacuses defined in the L'Erable Regional County Municipality. That is why we can say the current rules established by the Quebec Government, if rigorously applied, can prevent odor nuisance, due to NH3 emission, from swine farms. In the spatial model, buffer zones were established around houses, roads, waterways, and drinking water intakes. By combining layers of information in the ArcGIS Model Builder, potential areas in which pig farms can be installed, without public odor nuisance, were identified.

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