The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday the beginning of the first-ever nationwide study of air emissions from poultry, dairy and swine animal feeding operations (AFOs).

"Farmers are not only the stewards of the land, they are vital partners in the Bush Administration's efforts to accelerate the pace of environmental progress, while growing our nation's economy," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "This is a new day for cooperation between agriculture and EPA. Working together to expand our scientific understanding of air emissions from livestock operations, we can do what's good for agriculture, good for our environment, and good for the American people."

With EPA oversight, researchers from eight universities will take part in the 2-year, $14.6 million study to measure levels of hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, ammonia, nitrous oxide, volatile organic compounds and other gases from livestock facilities. The research officially began yesterday at 24 sites in nine states. 

"There has never been an agricultural air emissions study this comprehensive or long term," according to Dr. Al Heber of PurdueUniversity, the lead scientist for the study. "We don't know enough about what is being emitted into the atmosphere. This study will give the EPA the data it needs to make science-based decisions."

As part of the consent agreement, AFOs contributed to a fund to pay for the monitoring study. The study is being conducted by PurdueUniversity and its partners.

EPA intends to use the data from the monitoring study to develop an improved method for estimating emissions from individual AFOs. EPA believes this innovative agreement will bring farms into compliance more quickly than could have been accomplished through traditional, case-by-case enforcement.

For more information about the study go to: http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/airmonitoringstudy.html

To read the full EPA press release, go to: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/e87e8bc7fd0c11f1852572a000650c05/123eb5c154ff33b0852572fa00594518!OpenDocument

EPA press release