Airborne antibiotic concentrations in a swine feeding operation

Matthew W. Murphy, Wayne T. Sanderson, John D. Vargo

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

7 Scopus citations


During the past 50 years, it has become common practice in the U.S. to add antibiotic to livestock feed to reduce disease and promote growth. Use of antibiotics in this manner has become the source of increasing controversy because overuse of antibiotics is suspected of leading to resistance in bacteria that cause human diseases. The purpose of this study was to measure airborne antibiotic concentrations in a swine production facility that routinely included antibiotics in feed. Samples were collected in a hog facility that included rooms devoted to farrowing, nursery, and growing operations. Analytical methods were developed to measure concentrations of the antibiotics tylosin and lincomycin in air samples. Tylosin was mixed in the feed in some of the rooms in the facility. While lincomycin was not added during this study, it had been used in this facility in the past and therefore was included in the analytical testing. Inhalable (n = 34), respirable (n = 37), and high-volume (n = 16) dust samples were collected on PVC filters over a two-month period. Tylosin concentrations were above the limit of quantification (LOQ) in 93% of the samples, while lincomycin concentrations were above the LOQ in only 9% of the samples (LOQ = 0.04 ng/sample). The average tylosin concentrations were 3, 18, and 49 ng/m3 in the respirable, inhalable, and high-volume samples, respectively. No occupational or environmental worker exposure criteria currently exist for antibiotics in air. The results of this study may be used to estimate potential swine production worker exposures and to further study the association between these exposures and health effects.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Specialist publicationJournal of Agricultural Safety and Health
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Airborne sampling
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Antibiotics
  • Lincomycin
  • Swine production
  • Tylosin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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