• Hydrogen Sulfide Gas Emissions during Disturbance and Removal of Stored Spent Mushroom Compost

      Velusami, Balasubramanian; Curran, Thomas P; Grogan, Helen; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; UCD School of Biosystems Engineering; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 2013-12)
      Spent mushroom compost (SMC) is a by-product of the mushroom industry that is used as an agricultural fertilizer. In Europe, SMC storage and use are governed by EU Nitrates Directive 91/676/EEC to protect waterways against pollution by nitrates. A health and safety risk was identified during the removal of stored SMC for land application, as the stored SMC released high levels of toxic H2S gas into the atmosphere when disturbed. In this study, emissions of H2S were monitored at two outdoor and two indoor locations where stored SMC was being removed for land application. A repeating peaktrough pattern of H2S emissions was detected at all sites, with peaks corresponding to periods of active disturbance of SMC. The highest H2S concentrations (10 s average) detected at the SMC face were, respectively, 680 and 2083 ppm at outdoor sites 1 and 2, and 687 and 89 ppm at indoor sites 3 and 4. Higher concentrations of H2S were released from older SMC compared to newer material. Indoor-stored SMC had lower moisture content (53% to 65%) compared to outdoor-stored material (66% to 72%), while the temperature of indoor-stored SMC was higher (33°C to 51°C) compared to outdoorstored material (24°C to 36°C). The current short-term exposure limit (STEL) of 10 ppm was exceeded at all sites except site 4, which was smaller than the other sites, indicating a significant health and safety risk associated with working in the vicinity of stored SMC when it is being actively disturbed. Results suggest that SMC stored under cover in small heaps (600 m3) emits less H2S during disturbance and removal compared to SMC stored outdoors in large heaps (>1500 m3). This should be taken into consideration in the design, construction, and management of SMC storage facilities. Health and safety protocols should be in place at SMC storage facilities to cover the risks of exposure to toxic H2S gas during disturbance of stored SMC.
    • Hydrogen Sulfide Gas Emissions in the Human-Occupied Zone during Disturbance and Removal of Stored Spent Mushroom Compost

      Velusami, Balasubramanian; Curran, Thomas P; Grogan, Helen (American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, 2013-12)
      Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas levels were monitored in the human-occupied zone at four spent mushroom compost (SMC) storage sites during removal of SMC for application on agricultural land. During SMC removal operations, H2S gas monitors were mounted on the outside of the tractor, positioned at the SMC periphery, and worn by individual tractor drivers. The highest H2S concentrations (10 s average) detected outside the tractor, at the SMC periphery, and for the tractor driver were, respectively, 454, 249, and 100 ppm for the outdoor sites and 214, 75, and 51 ppm for the indoor sites. The highest short-term exposure values (STEV, over a 15 min period) outside the tractor, at the SMC periphery, and for the tractor driver were 147, 55, and 86 ppm for the outdoor sites and 19, 9, and 10 ppm for the indoor sites. The values exceeded the current maximum permissible concentration limit of 10 ppm for all the sites except for the SMC periphery and tractor driver at the indoor sites. Results suggest that H2S levels detected at indoor storage sites during SMC removal are lower compared to outdoor storage sites. Results indicate that there is a substantial health and safety risk associated with working in the vicinity of stored SMC when it is being disturbed and removed for land application, and that the risk is great for the tractor driver. This article discusses possible control measures and lists recommendations to reduce the risks.