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June 11, 2008
Toxic Fumes from Factory Farm Endanger Health
Richmond, VA: Public health officials are advising residents living near the Excel dairy farm in Thief River Falls, Minnesota to evacuate their homes because of high levels of toxic air pollution put out by the corporate farm. The evacuation comes as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prepares to exempt factory farms, like Excel dairy, from reporting just such toxic air releases.
"The residents of Thief River Falls are experiencing the most extreme example of a problem affecting neighborhoods across the country. The large amount of toxic air pollution put out by these huge factory farms poses a serious health threat to nearby communities,"said Ed Hopkins, director of the Sierra Club’s Environmental Quality Program. "To make matters worse, the EPA is considering making it harder for residents to find out when these factory farms release toxic pollution in their area."
Hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas released from manure at the Excel dairy farm, was found at levels more than 200 times higher than what state air quality standards allow. At those levels the gas can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and weakness.
"Some of these factory farms release more hazardous air pollution than large industrial facilities, yet the EPA is set to give them free reign to pollute—exempting them from even the most basic of pollution laws like reporting their hazardous chemical releases," continued Hopkins. "Public health should be the top priority. EPA should not exempt factory farms from responsibility for reporting their pollution."