Air quality to be monitored near poultry houses on Delmarva

MARYLAND –  Maryland’s Department of Environment has partnered up with the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. and the Keith Campbell Foundation to start monitoring the air near poultry houses and find out exactly what’s in it.

“I don’t see anything bad coming out from this,” says local poultry farmer Virgil Shockley.

Shockley is welcoming Maryland’s move to start monitoring air quality near chicken houses on the eastern shore with open arms.

“I think this is a good thing to the point that this will actually prove one way or the other and I think there’s been a lot of hype about what actually comes out and I just actually just heard the fan kick on behind me, what actually comes out of a chicken house.”

It’s called the Lower Eastern Shore Ambient Air Quality Monitoring project. It’s a project that will monitor particles in the air, including ammonia levels which has never been done before in the state.

It’s a move that the Delmarva Poultry Industry Incorporated hopes will bring transparency to the public.

“When we heard conversations about air quality and about farming in the past several years, we often heard people say I just don’t know what the ammonia levels are in the air around me,” explains James Fisher from Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.

The plan is two build to monitor stations upwind and downwind here on the shore that will be monitored by the states department of the environment for a year.

“We’re not trying to gather that data about what the air is like just at that farm and it’s neighbors we want to know more generally you know with the chicken industry on the Eastern Shore and with everything else,” adds Fisher.

It’s a project that the poultry industry hopes will bring much needed answers on what’s in the air.

“I’m not worried about the results because I breathe the air that’s in those chicken houses, I see what comes out of those chicken houses,” Shockley adds, “So hopefully after a year they’ll get the results they’ll take a look at it and this will all be put to rest.”

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

We’re told DPI and the Keith Campbell Foundation are pledging $500,000 towards the project that will go towards building the two new monitor stations. The locations of those have not yet been decided but DPI tells us they are hoping the stations will be up and running by the summer.

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