EPA developed a Risk Management Evaluation (RME) to help plan research dealing with the environmental impact of concentrated animal feeding operations.
Methods of animal production in the U.S. have undergone fundamental changes in the last 30 years. The majority of meat, dairy, and poultry production has been concentrated into large facilities. Dairies with more than 2,000 cows and swine operations with more than 10,000 hogs are not unusual. Broiler houses with 50,000 birds are common.
A concentration of animals has an accompanying concentration of manure production. One animal facility with a large population of animals can easily equal a small city in terms of waste production. Current practices of waste handling often include minimal or no treatment before the wastes are disseminated into the environment.
The RME was developed to provide characterization of the waste problem and a description of common environmental stressors and their movement, including the air transport of pollutants. Current risk management practices in the animal industry are described, along with treatment approaches such as anaerobic/aerobic digestion, constructed wetlands, and disturbed land reclamation. Finally, suggested areas for future research are presented to help focus planning for the near future.
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