Chicken farmers on the Delaware?Maryland?Virginia peninsula are introducing between 20 and 50 tons of arsenic to the environment annually, and researchers aren?t sure where it?s ending up. At some point, this arsenic could contaminate surface and groundwater.
The poultry industry in the region raises 600 million chickens annually, according to the Department of Agriculture. In the process, these chickens are fed organic arsenic compounds, like roxarsone, to control infections and increase weight gain. Keeping within U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits, little of the roxarsone is retained in the meat. Most of it ends up in the 1.5 million tons of manure produced annually by the chickens.