Spatial and temporal variation in endotoxin and PM10 concentrations in ambient air in a livestock dense area

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Several studies have reported associations between farming and respiratory health in neighboring residents. Health effects are possibly linked to fine dust and endotoxin emissions from livestock farms. Little is known about levels of these air pollutants in ambient air in livestock dense areas. We aimed to explore temporal and spatial variation of PM10 and endotoxin concentrations, and the association with livestock-related spatial and meteorological temporal determinants.

From March till September 2011, one week average PM10 samples were collected using Harvard Impactors at eight sites (residential gardens) representing a variety of nearby livestock-related characteristics. A background site was included in the study area, situated at least 500 m away from the nearest farm. PM10 mass was determined by gravimetric analysis and endotoxin level by means of Limulus-Amebocyte-Lysate assay. Data were analyzed using mixed models.

The range between sites of geometric mean concentrations was for PM10 19.8–22.3 μg/m3 and for endotoxin 0.46–0.66 EU/m3. PM10 concentrations and spatial variation were very similar for all sites, while endotoxin concentrations displayed a more variable pattern over time with larger differences between sites. Nonetheless, the temporal pattern at the background location was highly comparable to the sites mean temporal pattern both for PM10 and endotoxin (Pearson correlation: 0.92, 0.62). Spatial variation was larger for endotoxin than for PM10 (within/between site variance ratio: 0.63, 2.03). Spatial livestock-related characteristics of the surroundings were more strongly related to endotoxin concentrations, while temporal determinants were more strongly related to PM10 concentrations.

The effect of local livestock-related sources on PM10 concentration was limited in this study carried out in a livestock dense area. The effect on endotoxin concentrations was more profound. To gain more insight in the effect of livestock-related sources on ambient levels of PM10 and endotoxin, measurements should be based on a broader set of locations.

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