Industrial Food Animal Production and Community Health
Industrial food animal production (IFAP) is a source of environmental microbial and chemical hazards. A growing body of literature suggests that populations living near these operations and manure-applied crop fields are at elevated risk for several health outcomes. We reviewed the literature published since 2000 and identified four health outcomes consistently and positively associated with living near IFAP: respiratory outcomes, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Q fever, and stress/mood. We found moderate evidence of an association of IFAP with quality of life and limited evidence of an association with cognitive impairment, Clostridium difficile, Enterococcus, birth outcomes, and hypertension. Distance-based exposure metrics were used by 17/33 studies reviewed. Future work should investigate exposure through drinking water and must improve exposure assessment with direct environmental sampling, modeling, and high-resolution DNA typing methods. Investigators should not limit study to high-profile pathogens like MRSA but include a broader range of pathogens, as well as other disease outcomes.