142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

School exposure to air pollution from industrial swine operations in eastern North Carolina

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 9:18 AM - 9:30 AM

Virginia T. Guidry, MPH, PhD , Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Jill Johnston, PhD , Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
David Richardson, PhD , Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Devon Hall Sr. , Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help, Warsaw, NC
Steve Wing, PhD , Dept. of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in North Carolina are disproportionately located in low-income communities and communities of color; several counties claim the highest swine and turkey CAFO densities nationally. Previous studies have associated school proximity to CAFOs with prevalence of asthma-related illness in children. The Rural Air Pollutants and Children’s Health study measured hydrogen sulfide (H2S) for 28-69 days near the playgrounds at three middle schools surrounded by low, medium, and high CAFO density. We obtained hourly meteorological data, identified CAFO locations within 3 miles of each school using satellite data and geographic information systems imaging, and abstracted total swine weight from North Carolina Department of Water Quality permits. We compared hourly pollutant concentrations at schools with upwind animal weight, using circular plots of mean concentration by wind direction and linear regression. Hourly H2S concentrations exceeded 1 ppb on 21%, 7%, and 32% of days respectively for low, medium, and highly exposed schools. Total swine weight ranged from 0 to 1651.6 tons within wind direction categories. Upwind swine weight was associated with mean H2S; at the high CAFO density school, hourly H2S concentrations increased by 0.0002 ppb for every ton of livestock located upwind within 3 miles (β=2.2E-4, Standard Error=3.6E-0.5).  We conclude that upwind CAFOs are temporally and spatially associated with concentrations of H2S, a marker of the complex mixture of gases and particles emitted from swine CAFOs near these schools. Future research should evaluate co-pollutants, such as bioaerosols, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds, to better understand potential impacts on children’s health.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) as an environmental justice issue in North Carolina (NC). Compare measureable concentrations of CAFO-related air pollutants at three public middle schools in NC. Describe temporal and spatial relationships between upwind CAFO locations and pollutant concentrations at schools.

Keyword(s): Environmental Justice, Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I coordinated data collection, conducted analyses, and led the writing of this abstract.
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.