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Pew Commission Says Industrial Scale Farm Animal Production Poses 'Unacceptable' Risks to Public Health, Environment
Date:4/29/2008

ividuals with chronic or acute pulmonary or heart disorders--are at particular risk. The impacts on the health of those living near IFAP facilities have increasingly been the subject of epidemiological research. Adverse community health effects from exposure to IFAP air emissions fall into two categories: (1) respiratory symptoms, disease and impaired function, and (2) neurobehavioral symptoms and impaired function.

Environment

As with public health impacts, much of IFAP's environmental impact stems from the tremendous quantities of animal waste that are concentrated on IFAP premises. Animal waste in such volumes may exceed the capacity of the landscape to absorb the nutrients and neutralize pathogens. Thus, what should be a valuable byproduct (e.g., fertilizer) becomes a waste that must be disposed of.

According to the EPA, the annual production of manure produced by animal confinement facilities exceeds that produced by humans by at least three times. Unlike most human sewage, the majority of IFAP is spread on the ground untreated. Manure in such large quantities carries excess nutrients and farm chemicals that find their way into waterways, lakes, groundwater, soils and airways. Excess and inappropriate land application of untreated animal waste on cropland contributes to excessive nutrient loading and, ultimately, eutrophication of surface waters. Eutrophication is an excess of nutrients in a body of water, mostly nitrates and phosphates from erosion and runoff of surrounding lands, that causes a dense growth of plant life and the death of aquatic animal life due to lack of oxygen.

IFAP runoff also carries antibiotics and hormones, pesticides, and heavy metals. Antibiotics are used to prevent and treat bacterial infections and as growth promoters. Pesticides are used to control insect infestations and fungal growth. Heavy metals, especially zinc and copper, are added as micronutrients to the animal diet.

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SOURCE Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production
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