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Agricultural practices that entail keeping of pigs, horses, poultry, and horses predispose people to respiratory diseases such as asthma due to the plethora of particles and gases they produce. These particles, inorganic and organic particles, comprise allergens, irritants, and toxins, which are responsible for respiratory diseases. Inorganic particles emanate from minerals in the equine stable environment. Organic particles are the most dominant particles because they emanate from manure, fur, fungi, bacteria, and other microbes that are present in the equine stable environment. Daily, a considerable number of people in Sweden interact with horses in an equine stable environment, where they expose themselves to organic dust, microbes, and microbial products such as endotoxins and β-glycan. According to Walinder et al., stables contain 1-3-β-glycan and endotoxins, which are organic particles that inflame the respiratory system, cause asthma, and reduce pulmonary functions (265). Specifically, poorly ventilated stables have increased levels of organic and inorganic particles, hence, posing great risks to humans and horses. In this view, an equine stable environment has harmful organic particles, which predispose people to respiratory diseases such as asthma. Given that the equine industry is huge, it implies that a significant number of people are at risk of developing respiratory diseases owing to their exposure to organic and inorganic particles in an equine stable environment.
Ventilation of stables is essential to improve the living conditions of horses and protect them from microbial infections. In the stables, microbial contamination is a major challenge because fungi, bacteria, viruses, and their respective toxins cause respiratory diseases among horses. Essentially, microbial contamination of air induces allergy, causes pulmonary inflammation, and initiates infections. Witkowska et al. state that horses in poorly ventilated stables develop a recurrent airway obstruction, which is a respiratory disease that emanates from microbial contamination (1060). In this view, poor ventilation of an equine stable environment causes microbes to accumulate and cause recurrent airway obstruction. Caretakers and fans of horses are at risk of microbial infections because they spend a great deal of their time in an equine stable environment. Witkowska et al. confirm that microbial contamination causes bronchial obstruction among humans who have exposed themselves to an equine stable environment (1061). Profoundly, the degree of microbial contamination is subject to the age of horses, population density, ventilation system, and microclimatic conditions. Therefore, microbial contamination is a major issue that the husbandry of horses faces because it predisposes both humans and horses to diseases.
Improving ventilation of stables is an effective intervention because it prevents the accumulation of organic and inorganic particles in the air to levels, which are harmful to humans and horses. A study performed to establish the effectiveness of mechanical ventilation shows that the concentration of gaseous pollutants such as ammonia and carbon dioxide and ultrafine particles reduced significantly (Walinder et al. 270). Thus, it is evident that mechanical ventilation effectively improves the quality of air in the stables and consequently reduces the risk posed by polluted air. Comparison of air quality in mechanically ventilated stables and unventilated stables shows that there is a significant difference in air quality. Walinder et al. report that mechanically ventilated stables have better air quality than unventilated stables (271). Moreover, the strategy of constructing ventilation louvers and orienting stables in the direction of the wind enhances the ventilation of stables.
Given that the size of stable determines contamination of microbes, the construction of huge stables is appropriate because they allow air to move freely and reflect ambient ventilation conditions. Essentially, huge stables have better air quality than small stables because of their ability to allow ambient air to flow through them freely. Reducing the population density of horses is another solution to poor ventilation of stables, which causes microbial contamination. Witkowska et al. state that high population density increases microbial contamination for horses who do not breathe fresh air from the ambient environment (1062). Additionally, the nature of beddings influences the existence of microbes. In this view, the daily removal of hay, straw, and litter is a solution to microbial contamination in stables. Increasing the humidity of stables is also an effective solution to air pollution because moisture in the air traps organic and inorganic particles, and thus, preventing their accumulation in the air and causing respiratory diseases.
- What are the specific inorganic particles in an equine stable environment that cause respiratory infections?
- What is the appropriate model of stable, which has optimum ventilation?
- Do humans require masks to protect themselves from exposure to organic and inorganic particles in an equine stable environment?
- What levels of microbes in the air are harmful to humans and horses in an equine stable environment?
- What nature of construction materials and beddings prevent the growth of microbes?
- What level of humidity is optimum in preventing microbial contamination?
- “In intensive agricultural practices involving cows, pigs, and poultry, there is considerable evidence that farmers and farmworkers, who spend large parts of their days in the barn environment, are at increased risk of developing respiratory diseases” (Walinder et al. 265).
- “Increased contact with horses has been related to an increased incidence of asthma and decreased pulmonary function in grooms” (Walinder et al. 265).
- “The installation of a mechanical ventilation system resulted in an increased air exchange rate, as demonstrated by reduced levels of CO2, ammonia, ultrafine particles, and horse allergen” (Walinder et al. 264).
- “The microbiological contamination of air presents an important aspect of zoo hygiene and the concentration of bacteria, fungi and their toxins in animal houses, as well as other factors, influence animal welfare” (Witkowska et al. 1061).
- “Horses, kept in closed stables, inhaling air with organic pollutants, mainly from the litter and hay, suffer from a disease called recurrent airway obstruction” (Witkowska et al. 1061).
Ideas that Come to the Mind
In the analysis of the articles, the ideas that come to mind are that ventilation of stables is not only important to the horses but also to humans since they constantly interact with horses in an equine stable environment. Poor ventilation of stables predisposes humans to respiratory diseases such as asthma. Endotoxins and β-glycan are microbial products, which bacteria and fungi produce in poorly ventilated stables. Moreover, poor ventilation of stables causes recurrent airway obstruction among horses. Under conditions of high temperature and humidity, fungi and bacteria produce harmful spores, which trigger respiratory inflammation.
Walinder, Robert, Miia Riihimaki, Susanne Bohlin, Carl Hogstedt, Tobias Nordquist, Amanda Raine, John Pringle, and Lena Elfman. “Installation of mechanical ventilation in a horse stable: Effects on air quality and human and equine airways.” Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine 16.1 (2011): 264-272. Print.
Witkowska, Dorota, Angnieszka Kwiatkowska-Stenzel, Anna Jozwiak, Lukasz Chorazy, and Ann Wokcik. “Microbial contamination of air inside and around stable during different seasons of the year.” Polis Journal of Environmental Studies 21.2 (2012): 1061-1066. Print.