The National Air Emissions Monitoring Study (NAEMS) study began in 2007, but the momentum toward a conclusion is picking up steam.

Just this week, the National Pork Producers Council reports that it has nominated 14 candidates to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board (SAB). This newly formed board is charged with reviewing the data that Purdue University researchers have submitted as part of NAEMS.

The NAEMS study was initiated as part of a voluntary consent agreement reached in 2005 between certain animal commodity groups and EPA. The purpose was to measure emissions of regulated gases from representative livestock and poultry facilities across the nation. A major research endeavor, the point was to improve the scientific knowledge and database regarding agricultural air emissions. The animal industries contributed funding for the research project, “which is typical of such agreements,” points out Al Heber, agricultural and biological engineer at Purdue University.  Other funding came from the Agricultural Air Research Council, a non-profit group.

In all, seven pork, three sow, nine dairy and three chicken production sites in nine states were represented in the two-year study, which Heber served as director. Particulate matter, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and volatile organic compounds were all reviewed.  It’s important to note that only emissions from facilities were evaluated, not from manure storage or land application. “Activities outside the barn overestimate emissions by 10 percent to 15 percent,” Heber notes, essentially because it would be measured twice.” The enrolled sites all met CAFO size requirements.

“We sent EPA 6,000 pages of data a year ago,” Heber notes. Of course, multiple reports will continue to flow from the dataset. The research will answer how much is emitted; provide reliable date to develop emission models, and work to reach a consensus on emission standards.

The SAB panel that EPA will be made up of nationally recognized experts with demonstrated expertise and experience in areas related to animal-feeding operation air emissions estimation methods, notes NPPC. Among the specific areas included-- air emissions from broiler, dairy, egg layer and/or swine production animal-feeding operations; air monitoring and detection methods; exposure assessment; environmental statistics; emission and statistical modeling; and uncertainty analysis.

EPA intends to convene the SAB in early 2012 and hold a series of meetings to explore how the agency will interpret the NAEMS data, as well as the methodological approach to convert the data into useable emission factors to help producers determine compliance with federal clean air laws. A draft of EPA’s methodological approach is expected by the end of the year, with SAB’s first meeting to take place in late January or early February 2012.

You can find information about NAEMS here.