266038 Who is looking out for rural health? Local and state health departments' responses to industrial food animal production in eight states

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jillian Fry, MPH , Center for a Livable Future and Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Linnea Laestadius, MPP , Center for a Livable Future and Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Keeve Nachman, PhD, MHS , Center for a Livable Future and Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Roni Neff, PhD , Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Industrial food animal production (IFAP), the dominant form of meat production in the U.S., involves housing often thousands of animals in close quarters. Evidence of public health concerns resulting from community exposures to air releases and water pollution from these operations continues to accumulate. The purpose of this study is to examine the role of health departments in responding to citizens' environmental health concerns. We investigated the extent to which health concerns associated with IFAP sites are reported to health departments, the nature of state and county health departments' involvement with preventing or responding to these concerns, and barriers posing challenges to successfully addressing these issues. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were held with county and state health department staff and community members in eight states with high densities (or rapid growth in number) of IFAP operations. Our interviews reveal that health department involvement in these matters is limited; political barriers, a lack of jurisdiction, and finite resources, expertise, and staff were cited as limiting factors. Community members reported difficulties in engaging health departments and other agencies to respond and manage environmental and public health concerns associated with IFAP. The findings from this study may inform future education efforts and policy measures aimed at expanding health department capacities to address gaps in health protection.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the involvement of the sampled county and state health departments with public health issues associated with IFAP. 2. List the major barriers reported by public health department staff that limit involvement with IFAP and public health. 3. Discuss the effects that the low level of involvement of health departments with public health and IFAP has on people impacted by these issues.

Keywords: Environmental Health, Public Health Agency Roles

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a fifth year doctoral student in the Health Policy and Management Department. I have studied the public health implications of industrial food animal production and related policies for several years and I am writing my dissertation on the topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.