WATCH OUT FOR SILO GAS!
Silo gas forms as newly stored silage ferments. It can cause serious injuries, severe respiratory stress, permanent lung damage, and even death. In late summer and early fall, when silos are being filled, the danger is at its peak. Corn forms more silo gas than other crops. Silo gas begins to form immediately after forage is put into a silo. This gas includes nitrogen oxide, which changes to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the presenceof oxygen. Nitrogen dioxide, not to be confused with nitrous oxide or “laughing gas”, is a highly corrosive, toxic gas, which forms nitric acid when mixed with water. It is heavier than air and displaces oxygen. When inhaled, the nitrogen dioxide in silo gas mixes with the moisture in the body, formic nitric acid. This causes severe burning and scarring in the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system. Since it is heavier than air, silo gas will settle on the surface of the silage and flow down silo chutes.