Air Emissions and Animal Agriculture

Other air emissions

Some air emissions have local human health and nuisance impacts while other emissions pose problems at a regional scale.

Odors from all sizes and types of animal feeding operations can cause concerns with nearby neighbors. While odor may be what causes a neighbor to have concerns, it isn’t the only thing emitted from farms. Air emissions have both local and regional impacts.

Emissions of different pollutants differ in the potential severity and the spatial scales of their effects. For example, the effects of odor are of interest mainly at a very local level (nearby neighbors). Ammonia (NH3) has relevant impacts mainly on a regional-scale perspective because once in the atmosphere it may travel for hundreds of miles before being deposited in waterways or combining with other gases to form a fine particulate.

Unlike NH3, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) does not travel far; its impacts are more at the farm level than even the neighborhood scale.

Potential Importance of AFO Emissions at Different Spatial Scales (adapted from NRC (2003))

Emissions

Global, Regional

Local, Property   Line

Primary Effects of Concern

Odor

Insignificant

Major

Nuisance, quality   of life

VOC

Significant

Minor

Odorous, ozone   formation

H2S

Insignificant

Significant

Odorous, health

NH3

Major

Minor

Atmospheric   deposition

Dust   (particulates)

Insignificant

Significant

Health, haze

GHG

Significant

Insignificant

Global climate   change

Rank order from high to low importance is   major, significant, minor, and insignificant.

VOC = volatile organic compounds, H2S   = hydrogen sulfide, NH3 = ammonia, GHG = greenhouse gases

Regardless of where the impact of an emission might occur, farms should make a concerted effort to reduce air emissions to the extent possible. Controlling air emissions, whether it is from farms or non-agricultural industries makes good local, national and global sense.


Last Updated 11/02/2011