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THE EFFECT OF SMELTER FUMES UPON THE LIVE-STOCK
INDUSTRY IN THE NORTHWEST.
By ROBERT J. FORMAD, V. M. D., M. D.,
Have smelter fumes and emanations any injurious effect on live stock? Have such effects ever been recognized, demonstrated, and recorded? Such questions could be asked only by the uninitiated, or by those who reside outside the regions where smelters are operated. These disastrous conditions are only too well known to the inhabitants of smelter districts in any part of the globe, as well as to those familiar with the literature of the subject, who have substantial evidence, descriptive and ocular, upon which to base affirmative answers. Both animal life and plant life have succumbed to the smelters' baneful influences. Owners of live stock in regions where smelters are operated have suffered such losses among animals and forage that stock raising has had to be decreased or even abandoned; and no region adjacent to a smelter is exempt from the blighting effects of the fumeladen atmosphere upon vegetation, forests, and all forms of animal. life. In fact these two industries, live stock and smelting, can not coexist in the same locality when the ores used in the smelters contain arsenic. This is said with full appreciation of the relative character of the damage perpetrated. The quantity and quality of the ore treated as well as topographical conditions will influence the damage inflicted; however, in every instance it is found that the effect is detrimental and that the loss sustained bears a ratio to the amount of ore handled.
In Europe the effects of smelter fumes upon the live-stock industry have attracted the attention of investigators for more than a century, and the numerous data gathered by those workers have become history.
These earlier researches were directed principally toward the study of the damage to vegetation and forests from a botanical and chem
ical standpoint, the injuries to plant life being more readily seen than those to animal life. Forest culture and the preservation of forests have reached a high state of perfection and are zealously guarded by European governments, while the raising of live stock is on a smaller scale than ours, and the animals are mostly sheltered in stables.
In England, following the establishment of alkali works in 1796, such great losses were sustained that one company paid annually to landowners and tenants for damages to trees, hedges, crops, etc. In 1820 the Swansea works were established and caused great damage, which was recognized and allowed by the courts in 1823 and again in 1832. In 1847 the towns improvement clause act was passed, in 1858 the local government act, later the smoke prevention act, then the smoke nuisance removal act, all of which bore upon this question.
In Germany, the valuable investigations by Stökhart in 1849, by Sussdorf in 1855, by Rosler in 1865, by Reich in 1867, by Freytag in 1870-1875, and by Haubner in 1878, are among the earlier scientific labors on this subject. The masterly descriptions by Freytag and Haubner of smelter-smoke conditions more than twenty-five years ago stand correct to-day almost without change. These works inspired the ablest scientists to investigate smelter conditions, and their results have corroborated Freytag's and Haubner's view that smelter fumes and flue dust are so injurious to the live-stock industry that the two industries are incompatible in the same district. The more recent contributions on the injurious effects of smelter smoke are so numerous that they have been placed in the bibliography at the close of this paper.
The German Government has enacted laws whereby the smelting of ores is permitted only on smelter reserves; that is to say, the smelting company has to acquire all the land within the radius over which the injuries of the smelter fumes extend.
In the United States, whatever governmental control of smelting may exist, it is safe to say that hitherto in the laws enacted no account has been taken of the havoc wrought by the poison-laden fumes upon vegetation or animal life. Here forest culture and protection does not receive the same care and attention as in Europe, although smelting is conducted on a much larger scale and the ores contain more sulphur and arsenic than in Europe. The fact that our live stock is handled in larger flocks or herds makes it more difficult to handle individual animals, and thus a longer time has been required for the recognition of a diseased condition in the herd and its possible intimate connection with deleterious effects of the smelter. Hence it is that in this country only in scattered instances has this surmise culminated in an appeal to the courts.
OUTLINE OF PRESENT INVESTIGATION.
The investigation described in this paper was undertaken by the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture in response to numerous appeals from stock growers and farmers of Deer Lodge Valley, Montana, who sustained such losses among their animals and crops that live-stock raising not only became unprofitable, but a number of ranchers were compelled to abandon their homes and improved land and seek a livelihood elsewhere. The writer was detailed to inspect the conditions of that locality and to take such material from animal tissues for microscopic examination as might appear necessary.
The geographic situation of the Washoe smelter near Anaconda, Mont., and of the Deer Lodge Valley have been minutely described in Bulletin 113 of the Bureau of Chemistry of the United States Department of Agriculture, hence it is unnecessary to give such a description in the present article.
In this connection it is only proper to acknowledge the generosity of the Deer Lodge Farmers' Association in offering to allow the writer to select and slaughter without payment of compensation any animal-horse, cow, steer, or sheep-on any ranch in their so-called smoke zone, as well as from the dairies, to be utilized for the purpose mentioned. Mr. E. P. Mathewson, general manager of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, likewise extended a similar offer with regard to any animals on the company's premises, consisting of section 16 and the leased part of the Bliss ranch. These offers were gratefully accepted.
The inspection of Deer Lodge Valley and the collection of material for microscopic examination during the winter of 1906 extended over a period of forty-four days, from October 26 to December 8. It was ascertained first, by conversation with ranchers, what were the general conditions of the valley in which the losses were reported to occur, the extent of territory involved, the number of animals lost, the time of the year, and the localities where the greatest losses were sustained, also the character of the feed and water supply and the conditions under which the animals were kept. The representatives of the mining company, on the other hand, reported the flourishing condition of the animals on the company's premises, the abundant hay crops, etc.
The writer visited as many ranches as possible in the time mentioned, and inspected the pastures, soil, water supply, hay, sheds, and stables, as well as the physical condition of the available animals. This latter examination was usually made in conjunction with Dr. E. T. Davison, of the Bureau of Animal Industry, also on some occasions with Dr. D. E. Salmon, Dr. Leonard Pearson, and Doctor Cheney. The
ranches inspected were located in various directions from the smelter, and their distance on an air line from the smelter varied from 14 to 12 miles. While not every ranch came under observation, those that were investigated were thoroughly representative of the region subjected to the influence of flue dust. This region included almost the entire Deer Lodge Valley as well as the adjoining foothills. The injurious effects were sufficiently pronounced to be detected even on casual inspection, to say nothing of a close, careful, systematic investigation.
Twenty-one ranches were investigated, practically all of which were to the eastward of a line running north and south through the Smelter: only one ranch was a little to the west of south, and situated about 4 miles from the smelter. Eight ranches were in a southeasterly direction, ranging from 13 to 7 miles in distance; two were due east, from 2 to 7 miles; seven were northeast, from 3 to 9 miles; and the farthermost three were north, from 9 to 12 miles.
The inspection itself varied considerably in character. Where the owner was prejudiced against an investigation and unwilling to give information or have his premises and animals inspected, the inspection was limited to a mere general inquiry as to the present state of hay and other crops harvested, the prices received for them, and the number of animals on hand as compared with the records of previous years. On the other hand, where the owner was disposed to sanction an investigation, it took the form of a minute inspection of the ranch, pastures, hay, water supply, shelters, sheds, stable, and barn, in addition to an examination of all live stock. On some ranches the writer was permitted to select and slaughter animals for the purpose of microscopic investigation, which must always be the court of last appeal in the consideration of damage to tissues.
It should be mentioned in this connection that the physical examination of range animals is not as easily accomplished as that of the eastern stable and pasture-reared animals. When an animal is used to roaming on the range, even if it is sick, it does not submit as kindly to an examination as the halter-broken animal. After such preliminary examination it was possible to form an opinion independent of the hearsay statements of ranchers on the one hand and of the representative of the mining company on the other hand.
CONDITIONS FOUND IN REGION OF SMELTER.
This inquiry and inspection revealed many interesting facts. In driving through the valley one could see apparently fine-looking pastures and meadows in which no stock had been allowed to run or from which no hay had been cut. The reason as explained by resi dents of the valley was that the grass was so noxious that it could
not be used with safety or profit. Even the hay, they said, was unsafe to feed and also unprofitable for sale. It is a well-known fact that Deer Lodge Valley hay, when there is any demand at all, sells for about 50 to 75 per cent less than the hay from outside the smoke zone. In many places stacks of 100 to 250 tons remained for several years unsold and thousands of tons of hay remained uncut in various parts of the valley. The claims of the residents in regard to the noxious properties of the grass and hay can be substantiated by the chemical analyses of Dr. J. K. Haywood, of the Bureau of Chemistry, as shown in the following table taken from Bulletin 113 of that Bureau:
Arsenic content of forage in Deer Lodge Valley, expressed as arsenious oxid, as determined by J. K. Haywood, U. S. Bureau of Chemistry.
The analyses of Prof. R. E. Swain, of Leland Stanford Junior University, California, as published in the Journal of the American. Chemical Society, Volume XXX, No. 6, June, 1898, and Prof. W. D. Harkins, of the University of Montana, in 1906, given below, likewise show the presence of a large amount of arsenic in grass, hay, and leaves and bark of trees resulting from smelter fumes.