The State of Georgia receives billions in revenue from the production of broiler chickens, peanuts, pecans, and watermelons, according to New Georgia Encyclopedia. Being a leader in agriculture requires producers to use a variety of industrial methods and tools. The toxic byproducts of these processes can be hazardous to the health of the animals and people who live and work near the places that generate them.
The New Georgia Encyclopedia states that while the Environmental Protection Agency holds industries responsible for the pollution that they create, businesses such as the poultry industry can be challenging to regulate. Chicken waste contains quantities of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, which can show up in surface water, and produce an invasive algal bloom that threatens fish and other plant life. The source of the toxin, however, is hard to trace.
Biologic fertilizer, also known as sludge, is another potentially hazardous source of toxic agricultural byproducts. Depending on the source, biosolids from wastewater may contain synthetics, dioxins, flame retardants, heavy metals, and dioxins. Al Jazeera America states that
a number of people have reported health problems after exposure to toxins from sludge. In 2008, dairy farmers from Augusta discovered thallium in the cows’ milk, and a quantity of arsenic, PCBs, and molybdenum on their grazing land, which they blamed for killing their cattle.
Property owners who work in agriculture have the same responsibility as any other industry leaders to prevent toxins created in production from leeching into neighboring property. The health and safety of nearby people and animals should be a consideration when choosing and implementing industrial practices.