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Thursday, June 4, 2009

6/4/09 Fffffffffffffart! Beeeeeeelch!

I've officially joined the 'Boys Club' at my house (well, that's what I called it before DD moved back home recently). There's no required secret handshake, just gas explosions needed from either end to enter. Yes, you heard right. I'm not one of those gals who has a sense of humor about farts or belches (or the Three Stooges), so I'm going to have a hard time discussing this, but here goes ('goes'…hee-hee-hee).
I've never been a loud farter…even post-op with all that gas coming out, but ('butt' hee-hee-hee) I think I had 'lift-off' at one point. I'm more the 'silent but deadly' type. I can make it through days, weeks even, never noticing whether I ever farted. I know I do, everyone does.

Now, onto everything you always wanted to know about farts, but were afraid to ask. Did you know:

- The average person farts (depending on who's statistics you believe) 7-25 times per day (WebMD says at least 14), producing about 45 ml of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and 45 ml of CH4 (Methane).

- Methane has 21 times the Global Warming Potential as Carbon Dioxide and the average person produces 12.7 Liters of it a year. A tree would only have to spend only 17 days per year 'sniffing' the greenhouse gases in your farts to carbon neutralize it.

- Farting gas is created by bacteria in the large intestines.

- Farting volume and composition is directly linked to your diet and changes day by day. If you consume a high-fiber diet, which is healthier, you produce more gases that actually do damage the environment. Methane production in a fart is often hereditary so not all people create methane, but the average figures above compensates for this. The only way to eliminate your own greenhouse gas emissions is to eat almost no fiber, but then you probably die much younger than you should so forget about it.

- Steer clear of artificial sweeteners. Sorbitol and xylitol, found in many sugar-free gums and candies, have a reputation for causing flatulence. Avoid gas-producing foods and beverages. Foods that are high in complex carbohydrates (some vegetable and legumes as well as high-fiber foods like prunes) are the most likely to cause flatulence.

I'm thinking I'm doing my part for the environment, because I'm not getting enough fiber…and, of course, I just know I'm not one of those 'Methane producers' (you know who you are!).

Now, onto belches. I could hardly conjure up a burp before even when guzzling a pop (soda for you non-Midwesterners). Post-band I can't stop burping…every single time I eat or drink!

- Less than 10% of the total greenhouse gas emissions from livestock are produced by animal flatulence; most emissions are produced by animal burping. Belches and, to a far lesser degree, farts from sheep, cows and other farm animals account for around 20% of all global methane emissions.

- Livestock in New Zealand account for 60% of the country's greenhouse gas emissions. There is a global scientific effort to keep lifestock from belching (Silence of the Lambs). Some think there will new legislation to control or tax lifestock emissions (belches and farts) in the future. Cow farts/burps are a source of greenhouse gases, while kangaroo farts are methane free thanks to a particular bacteria in their stomachs. An average cow is thought to emit between 542 litres (if located in a barn) and 600 litres (if in a field) of methane per day through burping and exhalation, making commercially farmed cattle a major contributor to the greenhouse effect. 95% of this gas is emitted through belching.

- In some animals, a failure to burp successfully can be fatal (I hope that's not true of humans! What's going to happen when they tighten my band?!!!). This is particularly common among domesticated ruminants that are allowed to gorge themselves on very rich spring clover or alfalfa. The condition, known as bloat is basically a high pressure build up of gastric gasses and requires immediate veterinary treatment, usually the insertion of a flexible rubber hose down the esophagus or in extreme cases the lancing of the animal's side with a scalpel to expel the build up of gas. So if you're feeling bloated, be careful!

-The average person belches about 15 times per day, slightly more than they fart. Belching from people is mainly swallowed air from the stomach and esophagus so it's mainly Nitrogen and Oxygen, or CO2 from the carbonated beverages themselves. We don't have the same kind of digestive track and double stomachs like cattle, so the Methane doesn't come up, just down. The sound of burping is caused by the vibration of the upper esophageal sphincter as the gas passes through it. The current Guinness world record for the loudest burp is 107.1 dB, set by Paul Hunn in 2008. (This would be noticeably louder than a chainsaw at a distance of 1 metre.).

So, no greenhouse gases from my belches! Better 'up and out'! Good to know! Now, stand back…BEEEEEEELCH!

Burp trapping backpack- The methane collecting tanks were utilized by Argentina's National Institute for Agricultural Technology as part of a a study to determine the atmospheric impact of methane released by cows. The findings were startling, as researcher Guillermo Berro estimated that "30% of Argentina's total greenhouse gases could be generated by cattle."

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