Animals raised for food in the U.S. produce many times more excrement than does the entire human population of the country. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), animals on U.S. factory farms produce about 500 million tons of manure each year. With no animal sewage processing plants, it is most often stored in waste “lagoons” (which can be seen in aerial views of factory farms) or it gets sprayed over fields. Runoff from factory farms and livestock grazing is one of the leading causes of pollution in our rivers and lakes. The EPA notes that bacteria and viruses can be carried by the runoff and that groundwater can be contaminated.
Factory farms frequently dodge water pollution limits by spraying liquid manure into the air, creating mists that are carried away by the wind. People who live nearby are forced to inhale the toxins and pathogens from the sprayed manure. A report by the California State Senate noted, “Studies have shown that [animal waste] lagoons emit toxic airborne chemicals that can cause inflammatory, immune, irritation and neurochemical problems in humans.”