Publication date

Health effects of livestock farms: an updated analysis of seven consecutive years.

Baliatsas, C., Dückers, M.L.A., IJzermans, C.J. Health effects of livestock farms: an updated analysis of seven consecutive years. European Journal of Public Health: 2018, 28(supl. 4), p. 109. Abstracts: 11th European Public Health conference: Winds of change: towards new ways of improving public health in Europe, Ljubljana, Slovenia 28 November – 1 December 2018


There is continuing debate and public health concern regarding the association between high livestock density and human health. Previous research in the Netherlands showed that living close to goat and poultry farms is a risk factor for pneumonia. The primary aim of this study is to verify this association for respiratory health effects, based on recent longitudinal health data and various exposure proxies.

Prevalence (per year) of health symptoms and chronic conditions were collected for the period 2010-2016, based on electronic health records registered in general practices in areas with intensive livestock farming in the Netherlands (study areas). The study sample consisted of100,000 individuals. Two main methods were used to assess exposure-outcome associations: 1) Comparison with corresponding health data from different rural regions with less livestock farms and other major environmental exposures (control areas); 2) Use of individual estimates of exposure to goats and poultry (e.g. distance, number of farm animals) in the study areas, based on geographic information system data.

Multilevel regression models showed a significantly higher prevalence of pneumonia and lower respiratory tract infections in the study areas compared to the control areas (OR 1.6, 99% CI 1.13 – 2.28 and OR 1.46, 99% CI 1.03 – 2.05 respectively for the year 2016). There were no significant differences in asthma, COPD, lung cancer or coronary heart disease. The current findings constitute work in progress; the complete results of the current project will be presented.

Acute respiratory symptoms and infections but not chronic conditions were more common in areas with a high livestock density. This needs to be considered in the planning of farms nearby living environments and development of related public health measures.

Key messages
Living closer to livestock farms could constitute a risk factor for respiratory infections.
Electronic patient records is an important tool for health impact assessment.