Community Healthy Care Act: Supported by residents, opposed by poultry industry

On Wednesday, residents from the Eastern Shore made their voices heard in Annapolis in support of new legislation.

Dozens of people rallied to to get lawmakers behind Senate Bill 133 known as the Community Healthy Air Act.

"The community healthy air act would set up a study to monitor air emissions coming from large industrial poultry operations," says Meg Robbins, from Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group.

The purpose of the bill is to assess and identify pollutants coming from large animal operations. If passed, the bill would create a committee that would sample  air pollutants and evaluate if there are any health risks related to these emissions.. 

"The momentum of this legislation is really coming from residents on the Eastern Shore. People want to know what is in the air they're breathing. And knowledge is power," says Robbins.

One local resident seeking information is Monica Brooks.

"We want to get air monitoring in the Eastern Shore so that we can really get a clear understanding of what it is that we are actually breathing. My own daughter has been diagnosed with asthma which floored me, because no one in my family had ever had that problem," says Monica Brooks, who is also a member of Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs.

"We're not saying you can't do these farms, we're not limiting the access to the chicken industry whatsoever. We are just saying let people know the information so they know they can have peace of mind, that there health is okay, and children's health I going to be ok," says Senator Richard Madaleno, a sponsor of the bill.

47 ABC spoke with members of the Delmarva Poultry Industry who tell us they don't believe financing a study to determine how to monitor air emissions will improve public health.  They also cite studies from the University of Georgia that looked at particulate matter levels in the air 100 feet away chicken house ventilation fans. The study revealed that the levels were statistically indistinguishable from ambient air, and lower than typical particulate levels in urban areas.

Members of the Eastern Shore Delegations say they need more time and look at research before getting behind this bill. They also say that bills similar to this one have been brought to the table before, they just have not had enough support. 

Categories: Local News, Maryland