Air Quality in Norwegian Horse Stables at Low Outdoor Temperatures

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Abstract

Many horse stables have mechanical-fan ventilation systems but still try to regulate ventilation manually by closing doors and windows on a cold winter night. The aim of this study was to investigate the variation in air quality in Norwegian horse stables with different ventilation systems on days with low outdoor air temperatures. A total of 19 insulated, mechanically ventilated stables with horses kept inside during the night were included in the study. Almost all fans were operated during the night (n = 18), but inlets for fresh air were highly variable in design and management leading to potential for ineffectiveness of ventilation functions. In four of the stables, there were no specific air inlet systems, and in five stables, the exit door was used as the only air inlet. The air exchange rate was sufficient in all the stables with an automated temperature thermostat for ventilation control. Mean level of carbon dioxide (CO2) was 1,800 ppm and in one stable CO2 exceeded 3,000 ppm. Mean inside ammonia (NH3) was 1.3 ppm, and only in one stable the level of NH3 exceeded 5 ppm. The total dust concentration was 0.69 ± 0.19 mg/m3, and in two stables, the dust concentration exceeded 1.0 mg/m3. Total and respirable dust levels were higher in stables with ventilation rate below recommended level. Half of the stables visited had a lower calculated air exchanges rate than recommended, and the majority of the stables regulated the ventilation manually by closing doors and inlets during night. This indicates a general lack of knowledge among the stable managers of climatic demand in horses and how to operate mechanical ventilation. Still, the majority of the stables maintained acceptable air quality, with NH3 and dust levels within recommended levels, although most stables had elevated humidity.

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