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Increased respiratory symptoms in COPD patients living in the vicinity of livestock farms.

Borlée, F., Yzermans, J.C., Dijk, C.E. van, Heederik, D., Smit, L.A.M. Increased respiratory symptoms in COPD patients living in the vicinity of livestock farms. European Respiratory Journal: 2016, 46(6), 1605-1614
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Several studies have investigated the effect of livestock farm emissions on the respiratory health of local residents, but results are inconsistent. This study aims to explore associations between the presence of livestock farms and respiratory health in an area of high-density livestock farming in the Netherlands. We focused especially on associations between farm exposures and respiratory symptoms within subgroups of potentially susceptible patients with a pre-existing lung disease.In total, 14 875 adults (response rate 53.4%) completed a questionnaire concerning respiratory health, smoking habits and personal characteristics. Different indicators of livestock farm exposures relative to the home address were computed using a geographic information system.Prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma was lower among residents living within 100 m of a farm (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.24-0.91 and OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.45-0.93, respectively). However, >11 farms in 1000 m compared to fewer than four farms in 1000 m (fourth quartile versus first quartile) was associated with wheezing among COPD patients (OR 1.71, 95% CI 1.01-2.89). Using general practitioners' electronic medical records, we demonstrated that selection bias did not affect the observed associations.Our data suggest a protective effect of livestock farm emissions on the respiratory health of residents. Nonetheless, COPD patients living near livestock farms reported more respiratory symptoms, suggesting an increased risk of exacerbations.