Keep studying a potential danger

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

As livestock confinements become larger and larger, studying emissions of dangerous gasses from the large "factory farms" makes sense.

The health concerns have resulted in monitoring ammonia and hydrogen sulfide gasses, but the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will likely stop monitoring at the end of this year, when funding for this program runs out. The state legislature has funded the field study each of the past four years, spending more than $1 million on the research.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, an advocacy group, is criticizing the move to end the study, saying the research is ending before the state has developed a plan to regulate ammonia. It says the chemical can damage rural Iowans' health.

Environmental groups contend that protecting rural residents' health continually gets put off by lawmakers who cave in to industry pressures, conducting study after study instead of taking action.

Many point to a 2002 University of Iowa and Iowa State University study as an example. It looked at air quality and recommended some safe health standards. However, lawmakers pushed it aside and failed to adopt any ammonia regulations.

Health standards, whether in rural or urban settings, should not be dictated by the economic impact of the standards on a particular industry.