Printed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
As voluminous amounts of animal wastes continue to mount in the Dairy State, Wisconsin farmers are looking to dispose of some of these wastes through spray irrigation of manure. Not a widely implemented practice in the state, manure disposal in this form reduces wastes into particulate droplets, which are easily ingested and breathed in by living organisms, including human beings.
The health threats of this type of waste disposal, dispersed in an aerosolized spray, includes both Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and E. coli and more than 160 known pathogens, viruses and bacteria, along with additional lagoon contents, including antibiotics, hormones, chemical barn cleaners and quite possibly the compounded toxicity of industrial wastes.
The release of this toxic soup, sprayed into the air breathed by all of us, should be cause for alarm.
The Clean Air Task Force reports “that among airborne particles, the smallest, fine particles are of gravest concern because they can be inhaled deeply, absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to vital organs.” The hazard of these particles in the air come with the increased threats of asthma, heart and pulmonary problems and elevated risks to the young, elderly and immune-compromised individuals.
Children are the most vulnerable victims to the dangers of spray manure and volatile compounds including ammonias, hydrogen sulfide, methane and a host of other emissions. Lung damage in children is permanent and irreversible.
The dispersal of harmful particulates under the guise of “nutrients” is wrong. The reality of “drift” and “fugitive emissions,” which cannot be captured or controlled, put us all at risk for exposure to pathogens, viruses, bacteria and toxic chemicals. We cannot afford to use human beings in a study that has such blatant disregard for human health and the rights we all have to breathable air.
The rights of Wisconsinites should be defended and our air and water sources protected from the widespread threats of spray irrigation of manure, which the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection hope to implement statewide.
People deserve the right to clean air and water and to not live in fear of a toxic trespass that contaminates, poisons and has the ability to grievously harm human health.
The great experiment of spray irrigation of manure must be stopped. We believe that this practice will damage our air and water quality, human health, our communities, property values and tourism and will include the loss of the good image of farming in the state.
Spray irrigation of manure and the toxic compounds dispersed through an airborne transport carry with them the potential to cause great and immediate harm to human health.
Nancy L. Utesch is from Kewaunee.