Air Pollution from Livestock Farms Is Associated with Airway Obstruction in Neighboring Residents

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Abstract

Rationale:

Livestock farm emissions may not only affect respiratory health of farmers but also of neighboring residents.

Objectives:

To explore associations between spatial and temporal variation in pollutant emissions from livestock farms and lung function in a general, nonfarming, rural population in the Netherlands.

Methods:

We conducted a cross-sectional study in 2,308 adults (age, 20-72 yr). A pulmonary function test was performed measuring prebronchodilator and post-bronchodilator FEV1, FVC, FEV1/FVC, and maximum mid-expiratory flow (MMEF). Spatial exposure was assessed as (1) number of farms within 500 m and 1,000 m of the home, (2) distance to the nearest farm, and (3) modeled annual average fine dust emissions from farms within 500 m and 1,000 m of the home address. Temporal exposure was assessed as week-average ambient particulate matter <10 μm in diameter and ammonia (NH3) concentrations before lung function measurements. Data were analyzed with generalized additive models (smoothing).

Measurements and Main Results:

A negative association was found between the number of livestock farms within a 1,000-m buffer from the home address and MMEF, which was more pronounced in participants without atopy. No associations were found with other spatial exposure variables. Week-average particulate matter <10 μm in diameter and NH3 levels were negatively associated with FEV1, FEV1/FVC, and MMEF. In a two-pollutant model, only NH3 remained associated. A 25-μg/m3 increase in NH3 was associated with a 2.22% lower FEV1 (95% confidence interval, −3.69 to −0.74), FEV1/FVC of −1.12% (−1.96 to −0.28), and MMEF of −5.67% (−8.80 to −2.55).

Conclusions:

Spatial and temporal variation in livestock air pollution emissions are associated with lung function deficits in nonfarming residents.

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