Monday, January 11, 2010

Study: CAFOs a threat to public health

Jason Hancock in the Iowa Independent: Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) pose serious threats to public health due to their impact on air and water quality and the potential to help in the spread of disease, according to a new study released Thursday. The study, commissioned by Cedar Rapids-based environmental law center Plains Justice, found that CAFOs can serve as breeding grounds for bacteria and dangerous pathogens.

“My hope is that this report will help legislators and the public understand the potential health risks that confined animal feeding operations pose,” said Donna Wong-Gibbons, a public health specialist with Plains Justice who wrote the report. “In addition, I hope that it will help underscore the important role that agencies like the Iowa Department of Natural Resources can play in helping reduce these risks so that we can all benefit from safer practices.”

…Health professionals fear the health impacts that could arise from these facilities, including an increase in treatment resistant bacteria. CAFOs are also considered breeding grounds for new viruses. When the H1N1 virus first began making headlines, many felt CAFOs were to blame.

There are also serious concerns over air quality for residents living near CAFOs. Among the health effects documented for CAFO workers are altered lung function and an assortment of respiratory complications including a worsening of existing asthma, asthma-like symptoms, and chronic bronchitis. Workers in hog confinement facilities have also been identified as being at risk for hydrogen sulfide poisoning as a result of prolonged exposure….

Confined hog feeding, from the EPA

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