Are Industrial Chicken Houses Making People Sick?

One of the highest concentrations of chicken production in the United States is on the Delmarva Peninsula, an area along the Chesapeake Bay that encompasses most of Delaware, Maryland’s Eastern Shore and a spit of eastern Virginia. While the industry booms, the residents worry that emissions from these chicken barns—ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter—mostly from chicken manure and urine, are making them sick and worsening the region’s rates of asthma and respiratory illnesses. Even though these animal feeding operations, or AFOs, emit global warming gases and air pollution that’s linked to illness, these air emissions are not generally regulated or monitored under federal or state law.