Characterization of Livestock Odors Using Steel Plates, Solid Phase Microextraction, and Multidimensional-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry-Olfactometry
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Livestock odor characterization is one of the most challenging analytical tasks. This is because odor-causing gases are often present at very low concentrations in a complex matrix of less important or irrelevant gases. The objective of this project was to develop a set of characteristic reference odors from a swine barn in Iowa, and in the process identify compounds causing characteristic swine odor. Odor samples were collected using a novel sampling methodology consisting of clean steel plates exposed inside and around the swine barn for up to one week. Steel plates were then transported to the laboratory and stored in clean jars. Headspace solid phase microextraction (SPME) was used to extract characteristic odorants collected on the plates. All analyses were conducted on a Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)-Olfactometry system where the human nose is used as a detector simultaneously with chemical analysis via MS. The effects of sampling time, distance from a source, and the presence of particulate matter (PM) on the abundance of specific gases, odor intensity, and odor character were tested. Steel plates were effectively able to collect key volatile compounds and odorants. The abundance of specific gases and odor was amplified when plates collected PM. The results of this research indicate that PM is major carrier of odor and several key swine odorants. Three odor panelists were consistent in identifying p-cresol as closely resembling characteristic swine odor as well as attributing the largest odor response out of the samples to p-cresol. Further research is warranted to determine how the control of PM emissions from swine housing could affect odor emissions.