Fabian explores list of regulatable pollutants
OCEAN CITY, Md. — “The EPA says manufacturing and transportation have taken their turn” with respect to air quality, but “now it’s agriculture’s turn,” reported Dr. Eileen Fabian, professor of agricultural engineering at Penn State University, at the National Meeting on Poultry Health, Processing and Live Production on Oct. 10.
Addressing the meeting’s live production session, Dr. Fabian listed the agricultural air pollutants that may be regulated: Ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and greenhouses gases.
Ammonia, she said, combines with other atmospheric gases to form very small particles that cause haze and respiratory problems.
Hydrogen sulfide is generated by manure stored under anaerobic conditions, but very little is generated from poultry manure, she said.
Greenhouse gases include carbon monoxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
Only 2 percent of greenhouses gases is attributed to livestock production, she said.
“The human nose can detect more than 10,000 different odors,” Fabian said, “Odor is a huge challenge for animal agriculture.
“Odors from agriculture are no longer recognized as part of daily living. Odors and emotions are linked in the brain.”
Fabian described extensive odor testing, saying, “Odor has structure and is measurable.”
There are more than 200 chemical compounds in swine manure, for example, she said.
Her work involves evaluating treated and untreated conditions manure. In one trial, trained volunteers compared odors from different types of manure applications including surface, shallow disk, surface and chisel, aeration infiltration and a control sample.
She reported trials to mitigate odors from chicken houses found shelterbelt vegetation “may assist odor mitigation.”
Fabian said Pennsylvania’s odor regulations require odor management plans for new or expanded CAFOs and require an Odor Site Index to assess the potential for “odor conflict” with neighbors.
A site-specific strategy is required to address odors.
The index considers number of animals, species, proximity to property lines, history of livestock on the site, current zoning, location and distance to neighboring structures, wind direction and numerous other factors.
Mandated management practices depend on how high the index is determined to be, said Fabian. Level 1 involves “simple” practices such as composting and other practices most farmers are doing already.
A higher index may require more complex installations such as air scrubbers, electrostatic particle ionization, biofilters, shelterbelts and/or windbreaks.
Fabian noted that, although odor has a local impact, it can have global effects. Greenhouse gases, for example, can have a significant global impact but a relatively insignificant effect locally.
The presentation was part of the live production session of the meeting presented by Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.
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