Atmospheric methyl halides and dimethyl sulfide from cattle

Jody Williams, Nun Yii Wang, Ralph J. Cicerone, Kazuyuki Yagi, Mitsunori Kurihara, Fuminori Terada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


We have measured emissions of CH3C1, CH3Br, and (CH3)2S (DMS) from Holstein cows. In one experiment, two cows were studied in separate metabolic research chambers for a 24-hour period while on a normal diet and were studied for an additional 24-hour period 1 week later after being placed on a diet enhanced in chloride and bromide. Methyl chloride emissions ranged between 0.4 × 10-3 and 1.5 × 10-3 g cow-1 d-1, while methyl bromide emissions were much smaller, 3 × 10-6-2 × 10∼5 g cow-1 d-1. Daily emissions of methane from these cows were 134-180 g cow-1 d-1, quite similar to values found in many previous studies. A second 24-hour study of two different cows on normal diets yielded daily emissions of 0.6 × 10-3 and 0.9 × 10-3 g CH3C1, 0-1.0 × 10-6 g CH3Br, and 191 and 176 g CH4. If these emissions of CH3C1 and CH3Br are representative of the 1.3 billion head of cattle worldwide, then the global source of atmospheric CH3C1 and CH3Br from cattle would be 0.23-0.70 Gg yr-1 and (1-10) × 10-3 Gg yr-1, respectively. These emissions of CH3C1 and CH3Br represent <0.02% and <0.005%, respectively, of the total annual global atmospheric sources of these compounds; therefore, emissions of CH3C1 and CH3Br from cattle are insignificant contributors to their total sources. Discovered serendipitously, DMS emissions were between 0.17 and 0.24 g cow-1 d-1, and chloroform emissions were 2 × 10-4-3 × 10-3 g cow-1 d-1. DMS from cattle is not a major source over hemispheric or global scales but could be important in certain geographical regions. Chloroform (CHC13) emissions were similarly detected and quantified, as were those of C2H5X (X = C1 or Br).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-491
Number of pages7
JournalGlobal Biogeochemical Cycles
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Jun 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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