Study Uncovers Cows Contribution to Air Pollution
The San Joaquin Valley has some of the worst air in the nation -- and dairy cows have been identified as major contributors. But new research finds they may only be responsible for about half the pollution-causing emissions previously attributed to t
Monday, February 7, 2005
In the first study of its kind since 1938, U-C Davis Air Quality Specialist Dr. Frank Mitloehner (Mit-LONE-er) is the lead scientist investigating the amount of ozone forming compounds produced by dairy cattle.
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“The study is conducted using environmental chambers and in those chambers we have tight control over incoming air and outgoing air, we continuously measure different gases, volatile organic compounds and at the same time we video record the animal’s activities.”
By correlating the cows activities and the changes in chemical levels within the chambers, researchers found that a cows “belching” accounts for more of the ozone forming compounds than their fresh waste. This new research has also found that cattle produce about half of the amount of ozone causing compounds than indicated in the 1938 study. Mitloehner says this new information is critical to the regulation of the air quality of the San Joaquin Valley and California’s 4 point 6 billion dollar dairy industry. He says the research points towards possible biological solutions to air pollution such as changes in animal feeding and their management.