Health effects from breathing air near CAFOs for feeder cattle or hogs

Susanna G. Von Essen, Brent W. Auvermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


There is concern that livestock operations for fattening cattle and raising hogs known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) release substances into the air that have negative effects on the health of persons living nearby. These substances include dust containing endotoxin and other microbial products as well as ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and a variety of volatile organic compounds. Odors from these farms are considered offensive by some neighbors. A variety of medical complaints are reported to be more common in those people who live near CAFOs for raising hogs than in people without this exposure. Respiratory health effects, including symptoms of pulmonary disease and lung function test result abnormalities, have been described in workers employed in CAFOs where hogs are raised. Health effects after inhalation exposure of neighbors to substances released into the ambient air from these farms is less well characterized. It must be noted that CAFO workers may differ from neighbors in terms of their exposures and general health status. The presence of dust and other substances from cattle feedlots also causes some neighbors to voice concerns about the impact on their health but this exposure has been studied less extensively than exposure to substances released from CAFOs where hogs are raised. Further research needs to be done to look for measurable health effects attributable to living near all CAFOs in order to better understand the impact of these farms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Agromedicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005


  • Cattle feedlots
  • Concentrated animal feeding operations
  • Endotoxin
  • Hog dust
  • Organic dust
  • Respiratory health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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