Skip to Content Accessibility Information

Maryland Department of the Environment

Department of the Environment to Monitor Air Near Poultry Houses


Jay Apperson

(410) 537-3003


Department of the Environment to Monitor Air Near Poultry Houses

Maryland using science-based partnerships to answer questions about air quality near Eastern Shore poultry operations


BALTIMORE, MD (January 29, 2019) – The Maryland Department of the Environment will sample the air from newly installed monitoring stations on Maryland’s Lower Eastern Shore in answer to ongoing questions regarding  the potential effects of large poultry houses on air quality.

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

MDE is responsible for technical aspects of the monitoring such as the specification of equipment and the collection and analysis of air monitoring results. This effort is scheduled to continue for one year. At that point, MDE will review results and consider relevant input on any further steps that might need to be taken.

“The Hogan administration is committed to sound science and environmental leadership in agriculture,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “This innovative partnership for air quality monitoring will provide useful information to the public.”

Two new monitoring stations will be installed on the Lower Shore with equipment to measure ammonia and particulate matter while collecting information on weather conditions. Establishing the monitors near poultry houses is designed to provide results representative of any effects of concentrations of poultry houses throughout the Eastern Shore.

The specific locations of new stations will depend on an evaluation of factors such as the availability of power, security and 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. The department expects to evaluate these factors over the next few months.

One of those two new stations will be upwind from poultry houses and one will be downwind to allow for a comparison. Moreover, equipment to measure ammonia levels will be added to two existing MDE monitoring stations that already 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 yesterday. Under that 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.


# # #