EPA considers toxic fumes from factory farms “natural odor”

The bacteria-laden air wafting in from factory farms, where tens of thousands of animals do their business, doesn’t just stink—it can also kill. Yet on Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency amended a chemical disclosure law so that industries no longer have to let citizens know what they’re breathing in may be toxic. The agency amended the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, which requires industries to make local communities aware of hazardous and toxic chemicals so that they can prepare for emergencies—like, say, a hurricane headed toward an area with a high concentration of hog farms. As a result, the EPA is giving Big Ag a pass by instead classifying the fumes as “normal odor”—and therefore no longer under the rule’s purview. The stench may come from natural sources—largely, uncovered pits of animal waste—but when a single factory can produce millions of gallons of waste per day, the resulting fumes pose serious health risks for both farmers and those living in the area. As Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity said, the odor is “literally choking” the neighbors.  

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