Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are industrial-scale livestock facilities that confine thousands of hogs or poultry in small spaces, contaminating local air and water with urine, feces, and other animal waste. This significantly degrades the health and quality of life of surrounding communities.
In eastern North Carolina, most CAFOs are located in historically under-resourced communities of color. Duplin and Sampson Counties have more hog CAFOs than anywhere else in America. Many families have lived with air and drinking water contaminated by animal waste for generations.
CleanAIRE NC is partnering with communities to establish air monitoring networks in Sampson County. Residents collect and analyze data on three major air pollutants emitted in their communities, which they can leverage to address long-standing health inequities caused by the cumulative impacts of swine and CAFOs.
Our goal is to use this knowledge to motivate policy changes covering major sources of air pollution in the county. The project also provides an evidence-based model we can scale to the state and national level: an air monitoring project driven by community engagement, data collection, and environmental justice.
In 2023, we called on the NC Department of Environmental Quality to strengthen permits on CAFO pollution by amplifying community voices and hosting documentary screenings of award-winning documentary The Smell of Money across the state. Hundreds of concerned community members came out to learn more about the environmental and health impacts of large animal operations and how they can get involved in the permitting process.