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

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


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.


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).


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

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