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Maryland too lax on harmful ammonia coming from poultry farms | READER COMMENTARY

A worker walks to an entrance to the Perdue Farms chicken processing plant in Salisbury. May 13, 2020. Poultry growing operations are a major source of income for Eastern Shore farmers but also a source of harmful pollution including gaseous ammonia. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun).
A worker walks to an entrance to the Perdue Farms chicken processing plant in Salisbury. May 13, 2020. Poultry growing operations are a major source of income for Eastern Shore farmers but also a source of harmful pollution including gaseous ammonia. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun). (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

I read the article, “Maryland appeals ruling forcing regulation of gaseous ammonia emissions from poultry farms” (April 13), with dismay. With Earth Day still fresh in our memories, it is baffling to see the Maryland Department of the Environment continue to fight against rules that would benefit the health of Maryland’s residents and the health of the environment.

A recent ruling by a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge stalled the issuance of permits for Maryland’s Confined Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs until regulations could be added to limit the aerosol dispersion of ammonia. The ammonia dispersion from CAFOs is not only caustic and dangerous to breathe for residents living near CAFOs, the ammonia also deposits on soil and water as nitrogen. That excess nitrogen enters our waterways and thus the Chesapeake Bay and coastal bays behind Ocean City where it causes algae blooms that kill aquatic vegetation, fish and other marine animals.

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The measures necessary to mitigate the ammonia dispersion are not punitive. In fact, many of them are already practiced by conscientious operations. What is needed is for these measures to become codified within the permitting process.

Joseph A. Jankowski, Berlin

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The writer is director of the Protectors of the St Martin River.

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