CAFO air pollution harm 2002 University of Iowa report

CHAPTER 1 Executive Summary


In mid-June of 2001, Governor Tom Vilsack requested that the faculty of the two universities address the public health and environmental impacts of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs, also referred to as Concentrated Feeding Operations or CFOs). In response to this request, Richard Ross,PhD, DVM, Dean of the College of Agriculture at Iowa State University and James Merchant, MD,DrPH, Dean of the College of Public Health at The University of Iowa, were asked by the Department of Natural Resources Director Jeffrey Vonk to provide guidance“regarding the impacts of air quality surrounding CFOs on Iowans and recommended methods for reducing and/or minimizing emissions. Specifically, I am asking your advice and recommendations on how theDepartment of Natural Resources should address this critically important public policy issue.”Director Vonk asked five questions. Through a series of discussions and meetings, a combined study group of faculty and consultants (See Attachment 1) was identified, conflict of interest and confidentiality statements were signed by all faculty and consultants, definitions were discussed and agreed upon, a comprehensive report outline was developed and agreed upon and individual teams of faculty agreed to write each of the 10 chapters that constitute the full report. A technical and policy workshop was held in Des Moines on December 18 and 19, 2001, at which time chapter presentations were made and discussions were held regarding the series of five questions asked by Director Vonk.

Groups were assigned to summarize the responses to these five questions in this Executive Summary.Peer review of this Executive Summary and the full report was considered to be vital to the validity and integrity of the report. This peer review, completed by national and international scientists who are experts in the areas addressed by the report (See Attachment 2), was completed in January, 2002. Their review comments, as well as comments from members of the combined study group, were discussed at meetings on January 8, 24 and 29 and were useful in completing the final report for submission to theIowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). An agreed-upon glossary, which defines the many technical terms used in this report, is found in Attachment 3.Response to Question 1There are two questions contained in Question 1. The first is:Based on analysis of peer-reviewed, duplicated, legitimate, published scientific research, is there direct evidence of harm to humans by emissions, byproducts, toxic waste, or infectious agents produced by CFOs?There is now an extensive literature documenting acute and chronic respiratory diseases and dysfunction among workers, especially swine and poultry workers, from exposures to complex mixtures of particulates, gases and vapors within CAFO units. Common complaints among workers include sinusitis,chronic bronchitis, inflamed mucous membranes of the nose, irritation of the nose and throat,headaches, muscle aches and pains. Asthma and acute (cross-shift) declines in lung function are6documented among CAFO workers, even though workers with pre-existing asthma usually select themselves out of such employment because of increased asthma severity. Progressive declines in lung function over years are documented among CAFO workers. Those workers with increased acutedeclines in lung function, which are often accompanied by chest tightness and wheezing (asthma-likesyndrome), have been found to have more rapid declines in lung function over time. Very high exposures to hydrogen sulfide, which occurs during pit agitation, may result in death from asphyxia and respiratory arrest; those who survive such high dose exposures often develop reactive airways distresssyndrome (RADS), bronchiolitis obliterans and severe respiratory impairment. It is therefore concluded that there is direct evidence of harm to humans from occupational exposures within CAFOs (SeeChapter 6.3.2)

Iowa State University and The University of Iowa Study Group, "Iowa Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Air Quality Study," Febuary 2002,

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