Maryland state senator Richard S. Madaleno, Jr (D-District 18) has introduced a measure calling for stricter monitoring of air pollutants emitted by factory farms, also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
Senate Bill 773, the Community Healthy Air Act (CHAA) would require the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to identify and monitor all air pollutants that are emitted by the factory farms and report back to the Maryland General Assembly on its findings.
Advocacy group Food and Water Watch says the bill was introduced at the request of Eastern Shore community members and other citizen groups who are concerned about the impacts that CAFO air emissions are having on public health and the environment. Presently the MDE does not monitor or regulate these emissions.
“I live on a farm that has been in my family for four generations," said Lisa Inzerillo, a Maryland resident. “There are 95 poultry houses within a three-mile radius of my home and there is a new mega-chicken farm that was built right next to me with 96 fans blowing out all kinds of pollutants and foul odors. These emissions make me sick and ruin my ability to be outside of my own home.”
Ammonia emissions from CAFOs and poultry houses on the eastern shore have been found to contribute to substantial rises in nitrogen in nearby waterways. In addition, other pollutants from these facilities are impacting local air quality and the health of people who live alongside them.
In 2016, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future polling concluded that Maryland citizens want more protective regulations for CAFOs.
“Studies show that large scale CAFO operations directly threaten our communities and waterways with harmful air pollutants. It’s about time we pay attention to the impacts industrial poultry operations are having on public health,” said Madaleno.
“For decades, as agriculture becomes more industrialized, our protective laws and regulations are being ignored so that giant meat companies, like Perdue, can continue to reap the economic benefits while the general public suffers,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Here, the basic right to a healthy life is being taken away from neighbors of CAFOs while MDE has refused to even address the issue of CAFO air emissions.”
“For over a year, local governments have dismissed Eastern Shore communities’ calls for public health ordinances that would create protections against threats to air quality and our drinking water from industrial-sized poultry operations,” said Mary Ashanti, President of Wicomico County NAACP. “Meanwhile, childhood asthma, lung cancer, and lung disease rates on the Lower Eastern Shore are some of the highest in the state, yet no CAFO has an air permit. We are appreciative of Senator Madaleno and are counting on our state representatives to pass the Community Healthy Air Act so that we can make sure that Marylanders are protected from unhealthy levels of air pollution.