CAFO Waste Emissions exceed EPA standards: Memorial Day Wkend 2016

Emissions exceed EPA & CDC guidelines
Air Pollution at exceedingly high levels

Memorial Day Weekend was a toxic one for rural areas of Lenawee County, Michigan. Hydrogen Sulfide Emissions jumped from 1800 ppm to 5870 ppb (Parts per billion) after CAFO waste was spread on adjacent land. This is over 82 times the Acute level of exposure (See image below). Generally, outdoor areas that are not exposed to industrial releases of H2S have airborne concentrations of less than 1 ppb H2S as an ultra-low background level.

5870 PPB Hydrogen Sulfide levels 5/28/16 7:07 AM near Clayton MI Ambient Air Monitoring Equipment

5,870 PPB Hydrogen Sulfide levels near Clayton MI: Ambient Air Monitoring Equipment 5/28/16 7 AM  Wind speeds 7 mph, gusting to 32 mph (National Weather Service)

Why are H2S Emissions Dangerous?

For hydrogen sulfide, the EPA lists 0.7 ppm limits for lifetime exposure, and ATSDR (CDC: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) lists 70 ppb for acute and 30 ppb for intermediate exposures.

  • Hydrogen sulfide is a mucous membrane and respiratory tract irritant; pulmonary edema, which may be immediate or delayed, can occur after exposure to high concentrations.
  • Symptoms of acute exposure include nausea, headaches, delirium, disturbed equilibrium, tremors, convulsions, and skin and eye irritation.
    Seek Medical attention immediately if you experience exposure and symptoms.
    Source: Center for Disease Control: ATSDR

What Industries have similar levels of Emissions?

During President Reagan’s administration, a program was created to provide to the public the “right-to-know” information about hazardous chemicals being used, manufactured, processed and/or released into the environment. Many industries are required by law to submit TRI forms (Toxic Chemical Release Reporting) as maximum concentrations of Hydrogen Sulfide can reach 100 – 1,000 ppb and higher during industrial releases from events like oil pipeline breaks, leaking crude oil storage tanks, and other problems.

The US EPA requires that industries with these higher level H2S emissions (solid waste landfills, incinerators, mining, petroleum industries, etc.) submit TRI forms  to document Hydrogen Sulfide Emissions. (Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act for more information).

Air pollution is an expensive by-product of CAFO industrial pollution, and emissions limits should be enforced for this industry to ensure public health safety. 

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