Ammonia: The Hidden Danger in the Barn

By Jennifer Roberts

We all like to think of the barn as a place to unwind and relax, but did you know that there may be a hidden danger to you lurking in your horse’s stall?

When you open the stall door, pitchfork in hand, are you hit with an acrid burning of the nose, lungs and throat? That my friend, is the signature trademark of ammonia.

Ammonia is naturally occurring in urine and manure. Most of us know that ammonia is harmful for our horses, but we don’t realize that it is more than just an noxious odor for humans… in fact it is an extreme health hazard.

According to the New York State Department of Health, “Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in air causes immediate burning of the nose, throat and respiratory tract. This can cause bronchiolar and alveolar edema, and airway destruction resulting in respiratory distress or failure. Inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation.”

The irritating and corrosive smell of the chemical is an adequate warning of its presence, but unfortunately the chemical causes a phenomenon known as “olfactory fatigue,” effectively reducing your awareness of the smell after prolonged exposure. This means that the longer you spend in the barn, the less you will smell it, and the more adverse affect it may have on your body.

Don’t think that adults are the only ones at risk. Be sure to check out the condition of the barn before you drop your kids off for the day. “Children exposed to the same concentrations of ammonia vapor as adults may receive a larger dose because they have greater lung surface area-to-body weight ratios and increased minute volumes-to-weight ratios,” reports the New York State Department of Health. “In addition, they may be exposed to higher concentrations than adults in the same location because of their shorter height and the higher concentrations of ammonia vapor initially found near the ground.”

Luckily there are ways that we can combat this caustic chemical. In addition to frequent stall cleaning and proper ventilation, consider the use of a stall refresher, such as Sweet PDZ, which will effectively remove the ammonia from the air.

Sweet PDZ has been keeping stalls healthy for over 32 years and continues to be the leading horse stall freshener on the market. This organic (OMRI Listed), non-toxic compound captures, neutralizes and eliminates harmful levels of ammonia and odors.  Sweet PDZ is a far superior alternative to lime products for ammonia removal and moisture absorption. For more information, as well as a dealer locator, visit www.SweetPDZ.com.