Chesapeake PSR

Supporting the Community Healthy Air Act

Toxics and HealthTimothy WhitehouseComment

Chesapeake PSR is inviting you to join this sign-on letter for medical and public health professionals to Maryland legislators in support of the Community Healthy Air Act (CHAA), which will be introduced in the 2018 Maryland General Assembly session.

The proposed legislation would require the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to conduct a one-time study to identify air pollutants emitted by large, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), assess any potential public health harms and report their findings to the Maryland General Assembly by Dec. 15, 2019.

This bill comes at the request of local residents on Maryland's Eastern Shore concerned about the high rates of asthma and other illness in their communities. Research shows that CAFOs release huge amounts of air pollution, including ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane and particulate matter, all of which can cause troubling human and environmental health impacts. Despite these impacts, the industry and the state have opposed air monitoring, leaving the people of the Eastern Shore with little information on the quality of the air they breathe every day.

We do know that Eastern Shore communities have higher rates of asthma than other areas of Maryland. In Wicomico County, for example, in 2009, the rate of emergency room visits for adults with asthma-related illnesses was double the average for the rest of the state. We also know that air pollution can contaminate drinking water and that many residents on the Eastern Shore rely on private wells for drinking water.

The letter is open for sign-on by medical and public health professionals at the national, state and local levels. The deadline for sign-on is Jan. 9, 2018, and it will be sent to Maryland legislators on January 10, 2018, the first day of the 2018 legislative session.

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