The Association between Proximity to Animal Feeding Operations and Community Health: A Systematic Review

Annette M. O'Connor, Iowa State University
Brent Auvermann, Texas AgriLife Research
Danelle A. Bickett-Weddle, Iowa State University
Steve Kirkhorn, National Farm Medicine Center
Jan M. Sargeant, University of Guelph
Alejandro Ramirez, Iowa State University
Susanna G. Von Essen, University of Nebraska Medical Center

This article is from PLoS One 5 (2010): e9530, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009530. Posted with permission.


Background: A systematic review was conducted for the association between animal feeding operations (AFOs) and the health of individuals living near AFOs. Methodology/Principal Findings: The review was restricted to studies reporting respiratory, gastrointestinal and mental health outcomes in individuals living near AFOs in North America, European Union, United Kingdom, and Scandinavia. From June to September 2008 searches were conducted in PUBMED, CAB, Web-of-Science, and Agricola with no restrictions. Hand searching of narrative reviews was also used. Two reviewers independently evaluated the role of chance, confounding, information, selection and analytic bias on the study outcome. Nine relevant studies were identified. The studies were heterogeneous with respect to outcomes and exposures assessed. Few studies reported an association between surrogate clinical outcomes and AFO proximity. A negative association was reported when odor was the measure of exposure to AFOs and self-reported disease, the measure of outcome. There was evidence of an association between selfreported disease and proximity to AFO in individuals annoyed by AFO odor. Conclusions/Significance: There was inconsistent evidence of a weak association between self-reported disease in people with allergies or familial history of allergies. No consistent dose response relationship between exposure and disease was observable.