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Study finds health departments hindered in addressing health concerns from animal production sites
Date:2/4/2013

State and local health departments face significant barriers and usually do not get involved when confronted with public health concerns resulting from food animal production sites, according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The authors of the study, published in PLOS ONE, an open-access publisher of scientific research, examined the role of local and state health departments in responding to and preventing community-driven concerns associated with animal production sites. This study developed when it was brought to the attention of two of the authors that community members may assume that local health departments actively monitor and address potential concerns arising from large animal production sites. Prior experience of the authors indicated that this perception might be misinformed.

For the study, "Investigating the Role of State and Local Health Departments in Addressing Public Health Concerns Related to Industrial Food Animal Production Sites," researchers interviewed officials representing 13 county and eight state health departments and community leaders. Survey participants were selected in areas with high densities or rapid growth of large swine production sites. Researchers asked participants a serious of questions in an effort to find out what health and environmental concerns are reported to health departments, how the health departments respond, and to determine barriers that may prevent increased involvement.

Past studies have shown air near animal production sites to contain hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, and allergens. Exposure to these emissions has been associated with multiple respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological health problems. Health department employees surveyed told investigators that, although some are often contacted by concerned community members living in close proximity to animal production sites, limited
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Contact: Chris Stevens
dsteven@jhsph.edu
410-502-7578
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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