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Air Quality Concerns in Pennsylvania

NRCS helps farmers and forest landowners conserve our natural resources including providing clean air and preventing adverse atmospheric change. There are six natural resource concerns and opportunities on farm and forest lands related to air quality: Particulate Matter Emissions (including coarse and fine particles, smoke, dust, and off-site effects from wind erosion) Ozone Precursor Emissions Ammonia Emissions Odors Chemical Drift Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Sequestration

Air Emissions Regulations

EPA sets National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Click here to learn more about Ag Air Emissions and conservation practices to help reduce them.

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 Hybrid Poplars planted next to a house.


These Hybrid Poplars were planted next to a layer house for particulate matter and visual screening. After 2 growing seasons, most of these hybrid poplars were 12’ – 15’ tall. Additional rows of conifers were planted adjacent to the hybrid poplars.

Useful Tools to Help You Implement Air Quality Practices

Tech Note: Windbreak Plant Species for Odor Management Around Poultry Production Facilities (PDF, 904KB)

Air Quality Worksheets


  • NRCS Air Quality and Atmospheric Change Web Site - Contains the latest information about air quality, global climate change, training, and fact sheets.
  • USDA Agricultural Air Quality Task Force Web Site - This site serves as a repository of information about the task force, and provides public access to Federal Register notices, meeting minutes, reports and documents, and official communiqués from and about the task force.
  • Pennsylvania’s Ag Air Quality Task Force Web Site - Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Air Quality Task Force was established to provide a forum for industry, research, and regulatory leaders to meet and discuss agricultural air quality and related issues. Representatives from the State Conservation Commission, PA DEP, Penn State, Delaware Valley College, NRCS, and ARS meet to share knowledge and information relating to agricultural air quality issues.
  • Penn State’s Agriculture/Air Quality Extension Web Site - Learn how these pollutants are generated on the farm, the status of regulations for specific emissions, and options for managing them. 
  • Penn State Extension "Air Quality in Animal Agriculture" Web Site - Penn State Extension has created a web-page to serve as the repository of Agriculture/Air Quality Extension recordings and fact sheets. The website is being developed by the Air Quality Education in Animal Agriculture (AQEAA) project. Information available includes regulations, webcasts, videos, self-learning, and research/workshop summaries.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Odor Management Program - Act 38 (also referred to as the Nutrient and Odor Management Act) has placed the responsibility on the Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission to establish standards for developing and implementing effective odor management plans. The Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission directly administers the Facility Odor Management Program.
  • National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool - The National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool (NAQSAT) is intended to provide assistance to livestock and poultry producers in determining the areas in their operations where there are opportunities to make changes that result in reduced air emissions. The tool is based on the most accurate, credible data currently available regarding mitigation strategies for air emissions of ammonia, methane, volatile organic compounds, hydrogen sulfide, particulates, and odor. NAQSAT was designed to provide information and education, only. It is not intended to provide emissions data and/or regulatory guidance.


For more information on air quality:
Heather Smeltz
Pennsylvania NRCS Air Quality Contact
(717) 272-3908 (x126)