Hog farms can be hazardous to the health.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released preliminary findings last year, but researchers this year added analyses.
Funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences' Environmental Justice program, 155 interviews included neighbors of a 6,000-head hog operation, two adjacent cattle farms and a farm area without large livestock operations.
"[ldots]headache, runny nose, sore throat, excessive coughing, diarrhea and burning eyes were reported more frequently in the hog community," says Steven Wing, associate professor of epidemiology at the UNCCH School of Public Health. "Quality of life, as indicated by the number of times residents could not open their windows or go outside even in nice weather, was similar in the control and the community in the vicinity of the cattle operation but greatly reduced among residents near the hog operation."
Residents of the hog community could have reported more symptoms because of their feelings about the negative impact of the hog operation on their community, Wing says. However, he adds, if that had occurred researchers would have expected excess reports of most symptoms.
The biggest differences between the communities were seen in the quality-of-life questions, researchers found. More than half the respondents in the hog community, as compared to fewer than a fifth in the other two areas, reported not being able to open windows or go outside 12 or more times over the previous six months.