The Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources thinks his agency may attempt to measure and limit chemicals and odor emitted from livestock confinement operations.
The agency doesn't currently have the staff or equipment to monitor such facilities. It also doesn't have the budget to finance such an effort. But the agency, as well as lawmakers studying the issue, say the money could be raised through fees assessed to producers on the basis of the number of animals they raise.
The movement to regulate the emissions is driven by an increasing number of complaints from rural residents and an ambitious study compiled by two of the state's universities.
Gov. Tom Vilsack: "I know that we care deeply about our natural resources..."
At the request of Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a team of scientists from Iowa State University and the University of Iowa was asked to address the public health and environmental impacts of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFO's.
The researchers also were asked to make recommendations to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, on how the D-N-R should adress the issue.
While substantial data is available on the affects of CAFO's on hydrological resources, the study released this week represents the first major research on similar affects on air quality.
The study recommends that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources develop ambient air quality standards for the operations in Iowa.
While stopping short of directly linking specific diseases to air emissions from CAFO's, the report concludes that "emissions may constitute a public health hazard and that precautions should be taken to minimize… exposures arising from CAFO's.
The report states that "hydrogen sulfide and ammonia have been measured near livestock operations in concentrations that could be harmful to humans." And the scientists recommended standards for measuring hydrogen sulfide and ammonia at the CAFO property line and at residences or public areas. The researchers also provided two opinions on the regulation of odors.
Besides air quality, the study group also was asked to address other emerging issues relating to CAFO's, including the effects of the operations on Iowa's rural communities, the quality of its groundwater, and the health of workers in the livestock industry. In all cases the study concluded the presence of CAFOs was a negative impact.