Lower Eastern Shore Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Project Beginings

Air quality experts will sample the air from newly installed monitoring stations on Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore in answer to ongoing concerns regarding the potential effects of large poultry houses on air quality.

The Lower Eastern Shore Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Project is being undertaken with the support of the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment (KCF) and the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. (DPI), who together have committed more than $500,000 to the effort. MDE will collect data on ammonia and particulate matter near poultry houses for comparison with air quality in other parts of Maryland.

Two new monitoring stations will be installed on the Lower Shore with equipment to measure ammonia and fine particulate matter while collecting information on weather conditions. Establishing the monitors near poultry houses is designed to provide air quality data that is representative of impacts poultry houses throughout the Eastern Shore may have on ambient air quality. MDE will contract with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's Department of Natural Sciences, which is a part of the School of Agriculture and Natural Sciences, to operate and maintain air sampling equipment using MDE's protocols. Their activities will be subject to audit by MDE.

The specific locations of new stations will depend on an evaluation of factors such as the availability of power and security, as well as the proximity to trees and man-made structures that might interfere with the quality of data. MDE will consider the distance between a potential station site and a concentration of poultry houses and homes. MDE expects to evaluate these factors over the next few months.

One of the two new stations will be upwind from poultry houses and one will be downwind to allow for a comparison. Equipment to measure ammonia levels will be added to existing MDE monitoring stations that measure particulate matter to provide additional "baseline" levels for comparison with the stations near poultry operations. One will be north of the lower shore and one will be on the western shore.

The roles played by MDE, the Keith Campbell Foundation and DPI are spelled out in a Memorandum of Understanding​ signed by the parties. Under the memorandum, the Campbell Foundation is to pay for the installation of two new air monitoring shelters on the lower Eastern Shore and provide electrical power and air monitoring devices as specified by MDE. The agreement requires DPI to purchase air sampling devices to measure ammonia at the two existing MDE stations. In addition to collecting data, MDE is to prepare a final report summarizing the data collected.

Public Meeting

An informational meeting​ to provide the public with details about the project and an opportunity to ask questions, to explain the Department's specifications for locating ambient air monitors, and to take suggestions on locating the monitoring equipment was held on April 25, 2019. 

The presentation from this meeting may be found here​.

If you have questions about the Lower Eastern Shore Monitorning project or wish to provide comments, you can do so by emailing mde.poultryairmonitoring@maryland.gov or by letter addressed to:
Angelo Bianca, Deputy Director
Air and Radiation Administration
1800 Washington Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland 21230

Associated Project Documents
For more information, call MDE at (410) 537-3260.


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