The Truth: Startling Facts About Factory Farming Runoff

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 2:39 PM


Livestock pollution and water pollution

  • Huge open-air waste lagoons, often as big as several football fields, are prone to leaks and spills. In 1995 an eight-acre hog-waste lagoon in North Carolina burst, spilling 25 million gallons of manure into the New River. The spill killed about 10 million fish and closed 364,000 acres of coastal wetlands to shellfishing. 

  • In 2011, an Illinois hog farm spilled 200,000 gallons of manure into a creek, killing over 110,000 fish.

  • In 2012, a California dairy left over 50 manure covered cow carcasses rotting around its property and polluting nearby waters.

  • When Hurricane Floyd hit North Carolina in 1999, at least five manure lagoons burst and approximately 47 lagoons were completely flooded.

  • Runoff of chicken and hog waste from factory farms in Maryland and North Carolina is believed to have contributed to outbreaks of Pfiesteria piscicida, killing millions of fish and causing skin irritation, short-term memory loss and other cognitive problems in local people.

  • Nutrients in animal waste cause algal blooms, which use up oxygen in the water, contributing to a "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico where there's not enough oxygen to support aquatic life. The dead zone fluctuates in size each year, extending a record 8,500 square miles during the summer of 2002 and stretching over 7,700 square miles during the summer of 2010.

  • Ammonia, a toxic form of nitrogen released in gas form during waste disposal, can be carried more than 300 miles through the air before being dumped back onto the ground or into the water, where it causes algal blooms and fish kills.

     This information comes from the Natural Resources Defense Council. These are the things we can be thinking about when we make our consumer choices. Factory farming is dangerous to our ecological communities and the facts listed above should be cited in conversations concerning farming practices. Let's work together to make this information common public knowledge.

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