Public Health Concerns

"Some of Iowa's hog confinement facilities emit up to 650 pounds of ammonia daily." (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall), from an article in The Gazette.

"Some of Iowa's hog confinement facilities emit up to 650 pounds of ammonia daily." (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall), from an article in The Gazette.


The risks to public health and safety are well-documented and numerous: antibiotic resistant bacteria, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), asthma, high blood pressure, pathogens in the manure and exposure to toxic gases and vapors. 

  • According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nearly 80 percent of antibiotics in the United States are sold for use in livestock feeds. The manure produced by these livestock and applied to crop fields contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria, resistance genes, and 25- 75 percent of the antibiotics consumed by the animals. (http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2013/casey-schwartz-mrsa.html)
  • In 2000, Duke University and the EPA studied the effects of odor on people living near CAFOs. They concluded, “Our current state of knowledge clearly suggests that it is possible for odorous emissions from animal operations, wastewater treatment, and recycling of biosolids to have an impact on physical health. The most frequently reported symptoms attributed to odors include eye, nose, and throat irritation, headache, nausea, hoarseness, cough, nasal congestion, palpitations, shortness of breath, stress, drowsiness, and alterations of mood.”  (http://www.prairieswine.com/pdf/1777.pdf page 179)
  • These are just a few of the pathogens found in manure: Anthrax, Colibacilosis, Coliform mastitis-metris, Leptospirosis, Listerosis, Salmonellosis, Tetanus, Histoplasmosis, Ringworm, Giardiasis, Cryptosporidosis. Sources of infection from pathogens include fecal-oral transmission, inhalation, drinking water, or incidental water consumption during recreational water activities. (http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf page 9)
  • The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found evidence that houseflies near poultry operations may contribute to the dispersion of drug-resistant bacteria. Since flies are attracted to and eat human food, there is a potential for spreading bacteria or pathogens to humans, including microbes that can cause dysentery and diarrhea. (http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf page 8)