Environmental injustice in North Carolina's hog industry

Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Mar;108(3):225-31. doi: 10.1289/ehp.00108225.


Rapid growth and the concentration of hog production in North Carolina have raised concerns of a disproportionate impact of pollution and offensive odors on poor and nonwhite communities. We analyzed the location and characteristics of 2,514 intensive hog operations in relation to racial, economic, and water source characteristics of census block groups, neighborhoods with an average of approximately 500 households each. We used Poisson regression to evaluate the extent to which relationships between environmental justice variables and the number of hog operations persisted after consideration of population density. There are 18.9 times as many hog operations in the highest quintile of poverty as compared to the lowest; however, adjustment for population density reduces the excess to 7.2. Hog operations are approximately 5 times as common in the highest three quintiles of the percentage nonwhite population as compared to the lowest, adjusted for population density. The excess of hog operations is greatest in areas with both high poverty and high percentage nonwhites. Operations run by corporate integrators are more concentrated in poor and nonwhite areas than are operations run by independent growers. Most hog operations, which use waste pits that can contaminate groundwater, are located in areas with high dependence on well water for drinking. Disproportionate impacts of intensive hog production on people of color and on the poor may impede improvements in economic and environmental conditions that are needed to address public health in areas which have high disease rates and low access to medical care as compared to other areas of the state.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Animal Husbandry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Animal Husbandry / trends
  • Animals
  • Environmental Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Industry / trends
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • North Carolina
  • Odorants
  • Population Density
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health / trends
  • Social Justice*
  • Swine*
  • Water Pollution / statistics & numerical data
  • Water Supply / statistics & numerical data