CFO Emissions and the National Air Emission Monitoring Study
Yingying Hong and Paul Ebner - Purdue Animal Sciences
Concerns over CFO emissions and their potential impact on human
health are often voiced by neighbors of CFOs. These concerns can lead
to conflict when a new CFO is proposed or an existing CFO wishes to
expand. There are numerous compounds in CFO emissions (mainly
generated from manure) that at very high concentrations can be
very detrimental to health and even dangerous. These are the same
compounds which may be generated from a human waste water
treatment facility, such as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and particulate
matters. As such, there are occupational hazards to working inside a
CFO or in close proximity to the manure storage, especially with those
who may be more sensitive to these compounds. The levels of these
compounds at neighboring residences, however, are always much lower
due to basic dilution. Therefore, it is not appropriate to use data collected
from CFO occupational health studies to infer or predict potential impact
on CFO neighbors.
Since the publication of the associated article, there have been a handful
of additional studies examining the impact of CFO emissions on
neighbors. Taking all studies into account, there is still little consensus on
the association between CFO emissions and health of residences living
in proximity to a CFO (Donham 2010; O'Connor 2010). This is especially
true when looking at emissions and objective clinical measurements.
One Dutch surveillance study compared the medical records of 119,036
individuals living in high CFO density regions to 78,060 individuals living
in low CFO density regions. This study showed that living in areas with
higher numbers of swine, cattle, and poultry CFOs was not associated
with higher prevalence of respiratory, allergic, or gastrointestinal
diseases (O'Connor 2010). Studies using self-reported symptoms, such
as headache, sneezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and acute eye
irritation, tended to find more consistent association with proximity
to CFOs. For example, one study (Schinasi 2011) showed that higher incidences of acute irritation and respiratory
symptoms were observed as the levels of odor and
hydrogen sulfide increased and higher incidence of
wheezing as the level of particular matter increased.
While most of the CFO emission studies collected
data from healthy individuals, some hypothesized
that children, elderly, and immuno-compromised
individuals may be more susceptible to the effects
of emissions (O'Connor 2010; Hooiveld 2016). For
example, the aforementioned Dutch study (Hooiveld
2016) showed that the association between the
incidence of respiratory symptoms and the number
of CFOs in the neighborhood was stronger among
individuals age 65 years old or older.
The National Air Emissions Monitoring Study
(NAEMS). The US Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) is currently investigating whether to
regulate CFO emissions based on a precautionary
principle (Follow this link for definition of
precautionary principle.) In 2006, the EPA started a
two-year, National Air Emissions Monitoring Study
(NAEMS) through the negotiation of a voluntary
Air Compliance Agreement with pork, dairy, and
poultry industries, allowing the EPA to monitor
air emissions from their facilities. By conducting
NAEMS, EPA expected to develop Emissions
Estimating Methodologies (EEM) which could be
used by Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) (Follow this link for definition of AFO/CFO.) as standards to estimate air emissions and
determine regulatory responsibilities. In 2012, EPA
published draft EEMs for: 1) broiler operations; and
2) lagoons and basins at swine and dairy AFOs based
on the data collected through NAEMS. However, the
EPA science advisory board commented that the
current EEMs have limited ability to predict emission
at facilities other than those in the dataset (EPA
2013). Meanwhile, both the EPA science advisory
board and groups from pork and dairy industries
indicated that the combination of data from swine and dairy into one EEM was likely not appropriate
as these types of farms generally use very different
types of feeds and manure management practices.
At the time of this article, EPA does not have a
timeline for revised EEMs or AFO air emission
compliance. (Both of the EPA draft EEMs are
available through link: https://www.epa.gov/afos-air/draft-air-emissions-estimating-methodologies-animal-feeding-operations.)
Donham KJ. 2010. Community and occupational health concerns in pork production: A review. J Anim Sci. 88:E102-11.
EPA. 2013. SAB Review of Emissions-Estimating Methodologies for Broiler Animal Feeding Operations and for Lagoons and Basins at Swine and Dairy Animal Feeding Operations. Available at: https://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/SABPRODUCT.NSF/81e39f4c09954fcb85256ead006be86e/08A7FD5F8BD5D2FE85257B52004234FE/$File/EPA-SAB-13-003-unsigned+.pdf.
Hooiveld M, Smit LAM, Beer FVDS, Wouters IM, Dijk CEV, Spreeuwenberg P, Heederik DJJ, Yzermans CJ. 2016. Doctor-diagnosed health problems in a region with a high density of concentrated animal feeding operations: a cross-sectional study. Environmental Health 15:24.
O'Connor AM, Auvermann B, Bickett-Weddle D, Kirkhorn S, Sargeant JM, Ramirez A, Von Essen SG. 2010. The Association between Proximity to Animal Feeding Operations and Community Health: A Systematic Review. PloS One 5(3):e9530.
Schinasi L, Horton RA, Guidry VT, Wing S, Marshall SW, Morland KB. 2011. Air Pollution, Lung Function, and Physical Symptoms in Communities Near Concentrated Swine Feeding Operations. Epidemiology 22: 208-215.