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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 17, 2006

Reports Cite Environmental Health Challenges Tied To Livestock Production

A University of Iowa-sponsored international conference on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) has resulted in a series of published reports addressing major environmental health issues associated with large, industrialized livestock production facilities.

The public conference and scientific workshop, "Environmental Health Impacts of CAFOs: Anticipating Hazards - Searching for Solutions," was held in March 2004 in Iowa City. It brought together UI researchers, stakeholders and national and international environmental health experts to discuss potential solutions to public health problems related to CAFOs.

Five expert workgroups convened to consider the most relevant scientific challenges, including respiratory health effects, modeling and monitoring of air toxics, water quality issues, influenza pandemics and antibiotic resistance, and community health and socioeconomic issues. The workgroup reports published this week outline the state of the science in each of these areas and suggest opportunities to translate science to policy initiatives that would effect improvements in public and environmental health.

The reports from these workgroups are available as a set of "mini-monographs" from Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The reports can be accessed online for free at

"These publications represent a consensus view of the issues around the environmental health impacts of modern livestock production from 37 national and international experts," said Peter Thorne, UI professor of occupational and environmental health and director of the UI Environmental Health Sciences Research Center. Thorne contributed to each of the reports and served as chair of the 2004 conference.

The reports discuss major emerging concerns, including health problems from air and water contamination, the rise of multidrug-resistant bacteria in livestock, and the specter of influenza outbreaks arising from placing poultry and swine production facilities in close proximity to each other and to humans.

The 2004 conference was sponsored by the UI Environmental Health Sciences Research Center and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, with additional support from the UI Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination and participation of the UI Hygienic Laboratory.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

MEDIA CONTACT: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647,