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Blaming Dairy Cows For Smog
by Lacy Gray, click here for bio
Program: Food Forethought
Date: May 29, 12
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Have you heard about the smog producing dairy cows in LA? Right about now you probably have a mental picture of a cow driving down an LA freeway. That’s about the only way you could truly blame LA’s smog on dairy cows, but that doesn’t stop some people from trying! A recent study estimates that ammonia emissions due to dairy cattle in the Southern California air basin could be almost triple the tonnage of ammonia emissions from automobiles. Ammonia is one of the ingredients in the recipe for smog. Did you catch all the key study words though - estimates, could be, and almost. Interestingly, ammonia alone does not cause smog, ammonia must react with nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, a contaminant that does not come from farms. Automobiles and industrial sources generate nitrogen oxide emissions. The EPA reports that mobile sources are responsible for more than half of all nitrogen oxide emissions in the United States. It seems easier for some though to focus on targeting dairy operations as a way to control smog, rather than utilizing car pools, public transportation, converting to hybrids, or electric vehicles.
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