Silo Dangers - Part II (Sample News Release)

Silo gases are a real threat to farmers' health and safety. In particular, farmers should be wary of nitrogen dioxide, a potentially lethal gas that can form within hours after filling a silo and remain present for up to three weeks. Not only should farmers stay out of their silos during this time period, but they can follow these other recommended precautions to avoid exposure to this deadly gas:

  • Be on the alert for bleach-like odors and/or yellowish brown fumes at the base of the silo. Both are tell-tale signs of nitrogen dioxide gas.
  • Adequate ventilation should be provided at the base of the silo, especially if it opens into a feed room. Silo feed rooms should be ventilated by the use of open windows and fans during the 3 week closed-space danger period.
  • Keep the door between the silo and any attached structure, such as a barn, tightly sealed to protect livestock and humans from contamination of barn areas.
  • Remember to keep children and visitors away from the silo during the danger period.
  • Have another person in the area when you are going to enter the silo. Make sure people know where you are.
  • Even after the suggested three week period, measures should be taken to adequately ventilate the silo before entering. The forage blower should be run for 15-20 minutes. This will allow the gases to escape.
  • See your doctor immediately if you suspect exposure to silo gas.

Next week we will continue to look at the dangers of silo gases and how to avoid them.

Dominic Coppolo, Assistant Research Director, NYCAMH.

This public service announcement was produced by the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH), One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, New York 13326 - Ph# (607) 547-6023 or (800) 343-7527 in the northeast. Publication date: 1994.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More