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New network tracks ammonia, particulates in Maryland’s ambient air

TAGS: Poultry
Maryland Department of the Environment photo MDE Pocomoke City air monitoring station.jpg
A newly built ambient air monitoring station near Pocomoke City, Md.
Monitoring network helps stakeholders understand how farms, suburbs and denser cities can coexist.

A new ambient air monitoring network on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is up and running, according to Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. (DPI), which is supporting the network along with The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).

DPI said the monitoring network is the first to measure ambient ammonia levels on the Eastern Shore as well as in Baltimore, Md.

Beginning in April, two collection stations have measured continuous ammonia, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and coarse particulate matter (PM10) on the Lower Eastern Shore. One station, near Pocomoke City, Md., is in an area with a relatively high density of poultry houses, while a Princess Anne station is in an area where fewer poultry houses are nearby. For comparison purposes, near real-time concentrations of ammonia and PM2.5 are being measured at existing stations in downtown Baltimore and the Horn Point Lab, near Cambridge, Md.

All data in the monitoring network, including hourly data and monthly summaries, is being collected and fully publicly available from MDE.

DPI, the Campbell Foundation and MDE agreed in 2019 to collaborate to build the new network, with the nongovernmental partners committing more than $500,000 to the effort to keep taxpayer costs to a minimum. MDE had sole authority to determine the sites of the two new monitoring stations and is operating the stations, DPI noted.

“The launch of this data-gathering effort reflects the chicken community’s firm commitment to transparency and to being a good neighbor,” said DPI executive director Holly Porter. “We share with all Marylanders an interest in better understanding how farms, suburbs and denser cities can coexist on the Eastern Shore, and this ambient air monitoring network furthers that understanding. We look forward to all stakeholders having the opportunity to review the data this network will supply.”

“The Campbell Foundation is participating in this partnership to develop a better understanding of the actual environmental conditions in the region and to advance productive conversations on environmental stressors in the Bay watershed,” said Samantha Campbell, president of the Campbell Foundation. “In this first year of data collection, we want to expand our reach to community members who have expressed concern over air quality effects on human health. We want to understand the local perspective on where our help could be most valuable.”

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