Organic Consumers Association

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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Factory Farms Raise a Stink - and They Might Raise Your Blood Pressure Too

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Factory Farming and Food Safety page and our Health Issues page.

CAFOs stink. In addition to being crowded, dirty, inhumane, and brimming with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, produce thousands of gallons of liquid waste with a stench that wafts through the air in the surrounding communities practically daily.

These odors are nasty and hard to live with, but new science suggests they also might put the bodies of those living near them in a state of stress that could have frightening effects on their blood pressure.

A study released last week out of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and published in Environmental Health Perspectives, asked 101 residents of towns in close proximity to large, industrial swine operations to sit outdoors for 10 minutes a day and record the level of hog odor on a 9-point scale. Then they were also asked to measure their blood pressure twice on portable digital devices. As a result, the researchers found a strong correlation between the days when the subjects reported strong odors and regular stress-induced blood pressure spikes.

The study's lead researcher, Steve Wing, has already looked into some of the more well-known downsides to living near a CAFO. Last year, he released a related study finding that North Carolina residents who live in areas near big hog farms experienced eye irritation, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, sore throats, and nausea.

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