State to Begin Monitoring Air Quality Near Eastern Shore Poultry Houses

    The Maryland Department of the Environment announced Tuesday that it will begin sampling air quality near Lower Eastern Shore poultry houses on a trial basis.

    The agency has received grant money to install monitoring stations to gauge the potential effects of large poultry houses on air quality.

    MDE will collect preliminary data on levels of ammonia and particulate matter near poultry houses for comparison with air quality in other parts of Maryland. The Lower Eastern Shore Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Project will be done under an agreement with the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment and Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., who together have committed more than $500,000 to the effort.

    MDE said it will be responsible for technical aspects of the monitoring such as the specification of equipment and the collection and analysis of air monitoring results. This effort is scheduled to continue for one year. At that point, MDE will review results and consider any further steps that might need to be taken.

    “The Hogan administration is committed to sound science and environmental leadership in agriculture,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles in a statement. “This innovative partnership for air quality monitoring will provide useful information to the public.”

    Two new monitoring stations will be installed on the Lower Shore with equipment to measure ammonia and particulate matter while collecting information on weather conditions. The specific locations of new stations will depend on an evaluation of factors such as the availability of power, security and proximity to trees and man-made structures that might interfere with the quality of data. MDE will consider the distance between a potential station site and a concentration of poultry houses and homes. The department expects to evaluate these factors over the next few months.

    One of those two new stations will be upwind from poultry houses and one will be downwind to allow for a comparison.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.