Hog Farm Pollution Tied To Residents' Symptoms

Apr 25, 2011

Spraying hog waste and hog carcass disposal
Credit Larry Baldwin, Neuse River Foundation

  People living near hog farms in the eastern part of the state experience breathing problems when emissions from hog waste are highest - that's from new research done by UNC environmental scientists. 

Epidemiologist Steve Wing from the Gillings School of Global Public Health placed air pollution monitors in communities surrounded by large hog farms. He says one of the most important gasses he measured is hydrogen sulfide. The rotten egg smelling gas is known to be toxic to the nervous and the respiratory systems.  Wing also asked residents to keep diaries of their symptoms. 

Steve Wing: "What we found in our research was that as the levels of hydrogen sulfide went up, the reporting of symptoms and problems with quality of life and actual stress levels, that all of those responses went higher in proportion to the amount of hydrogen sulfide in the air, in the community..."

Wing says other pollutants get into the air when farmers spray hog waste onto fields, and when they ventilate large barns containing hundreds of hogs.

Link to Wing's study in Epidemiology