Letter from American Lung Assoc. on Spray Irrigation, March 2013

March 26, 2013 TO: Secretary Kitty Rhoades, Department of Health Services Secretary Ben Brancel, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Cathy Stepp, Department of Natural Resources                    Senator Frank Lasee Representative Garey Bies Kevin Moore, Department of Health Services Bart Sponseller, Department of Natural Resources                                Andrew Craig, Department of Natural Resources Tom Bauman, Department of Natural Resources Robert Thiboldeaux, PhD, Toxicologist, Division of Public Health Mark Cain, Department of Natural Resources Ken Johnson, Department of Natural Resources

Re:  Manure Spray Irrigation

The American Lung Association in Wisconsin has been contacted by a group of concerned citizens in Kewaunee County for assistance in an air quality issue that is of great concern to both the residents of those communities and to our organization.  The issue is the proposed plan to spray liquid manure fertilizer.  These residents are understandably upset at the prospect of being subjected to breathing liquid manure!  I also have been informed that there have been several workgroup meetings to which residents of the communities affected were not invited to participate.

According to a report published by the National Association of Local Boards of Health animal manure contains 160 pathogens that are capable of causing disease or infection in animals or humans, affecting the respiratory and digestive systems, muscles and skin with chills and fever, itching and rashes, fatigue and weakness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration, headache, abdominal pain and cramping and other debilitating symptoms and illnesses.  These pathogens can be transmitted through the air and/or water, potentially leading to widespread outbreaks.  Manure lagoons also contain antibiotics, hormones, barn cleaners and municipal and industrial wastes, all of which are potentially transferred to humans and animals a great distance from the spraying area.

In Kewanee County alone, there are currently 16 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) which are already spreading liquid manure directly to the land.  To consider adding spraying of additional liquid manure increases the risk those residents already face. 

The American Lung Association understands and respects the long tradition of agriculture and the important role it plays in our economy.  Many of our own state authorities, however, have publicly recognized the potential negative health impacts of the center pivot sprinkler technology and have published recommendations to limit exposure.  Whether these recommendations are adequate to protect these residents is still open for debate, especially in light of the very large potential applications being considered. Because of these facts, we are requesting that you reopen the work group with the inclusion of residents from the affected communities.  We also respectfully request that you hold a public hearing in advance of issuing any permits, so that residents can be fully heard. 

I know the residents are eager to work with state officials to find a solution that both helps our farms prosper while also protecting the people who live nearby.  I hope to learn more about the permitting process and how we can assist you in finding a satisfactory resolution to this issue.


Dona Wininsky

Director of Public Policy and Communications

View letter -American Lung Assoc on Spray irrigation letter March 2013