EPA needs to take action on farms

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015

They are some of the worst air polluters in the country and the Environmental Protection Agency isn’t doing anything about it. Who are they?  The 20,000 factory farms in the U.S. that are home to billions of abused animals that are often cramped in small cages and living in squalid conditions.

The agency has failed to hold these animal factories accountable for polluting the environment, yet the EPA has known for years that factory farms release industrial air pollution. Two major lawsuits were launched by a coalition of groups recently — the Center for Food Safety, the Humane Society of the United States and the Sierra Club — to force the EPA to comply with current law and list factory farms as a category of pollution under the Clean Air Act.

For far too long, the health of animals, farm workers and Americans who live near factory farms has been at risk. The EPA needs to take action now and protect our air from toxic factory farming practices.

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Factory farms emit staggering levels of pollutants.  While some release as much hydrogen sulfide into the air as dirty oil refineries, an analysis of EPA’s own data found that other farms release thousands of pounds of ammonia into the air each day. In addition, factory farms are major sources of dangerous greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide, which are major contributors to climate change.

Also severe are the health effects of working on or living near a factory farm. Children who live near factory farms are more likely to develop asthma one study found, and that the high levels of ammonia emitted by factory farms “can build up in a person’s airways, causing severe coughing and even scarring of the airways,” as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the EPA to do its job and protect the environment and the public health is long past overdue. It’s high time for the EPA to regulate toxic air pollution from factory farms nationwide.

Brad Trom

Blooming Prairie