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Death Caused by Fermenting Manure

Dale L. Morse, MD; Mary A. Woodbury, MPH; Kenneth Rentmeester, MPH; Darryll Farmer, MPH
JAMA. 1981;245(1):63-64. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310260041027.
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FARM workers are at risk of contracting a unique set of occupationally related illnesses.2,3 Chemical toxicity is usually pesticide related but is also seen in settings like silage storage where toxic gases can be released. In contrast, manure handling has involved little chemical exposure except for that experienced through the nasal route. We present information to document how conversion of waste management units to more efficient liquid-manure systems can result in an increased risk of toxic chemical exposure.

Report of a Case  A 16-year-old farm worker began using high-pressure hot water to clean manure from gutters inside a recently emptied calf barn in Wisconsin. He was 10 m from a 378,500-L underground liquid-manure storage tank, the contents of which had been agitating for 30 to 60 minutes (Figure). After ten minutes he began to cough, vomited, collapsed, and died. A co-worker who was working close to an exhaust fan


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