EPA Dissecting Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations

A nationwide study of air emissions from poultry, dairy, and swine animal feeding operations (AFOs) is underway, EPA announced. The agency intends to use the data from the study to improve methods for estimating emissions from individual AFOs. With EPA oversight, researchers from eight universities are taking part in the two-year, $14.6 million study to measure levels of hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, ammonia, nitrous oxide, volatile organic compounds, and other gases from livestock facilities. The research has officially begun at 24 sites in nine states.

EPA concluded in the late 1990s that it did not have sufficient air emissions data for AFOs, which made it difficult to determine the compliance status of AFOs with existing air emissions requirements. EPA began discussions with AFO owners in 2001 and eventually developed a voluntary consent agreement with the AFO industry. This agreement established a framework for farmers to participate in a monitoring study. Over 2,600 agreements were signed, representing approximately 14,000 swine, dairy, egg-laying and broiler chicken (meat-bird) farms. EPA believes this agreement will bring farms into compliance more quickly than could have been accomplished through traditional, case-by-case enforcement.

As part of the consent agreement, AFOs contributed to a fund to pay for the monitoring study. The study is being conducted by Purdue University and its partners. The eight universities participating in the study are: Purdue University, University of California-Davis, Cornell University, Iowa State University, University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, Texas A&M University, and Washington State University. For more information about the study, visit http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/airmonitoringstudy.html.

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    March 2021

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