Environmental health effects of concentrated animal feeding operations: implications for nurses

Nurs Adm Q. 2010 Oct-Dec;34(4):311-9. doi: 10.1097/NAQ.0b013e3181f5649c.


Changes in livestock farming over the last 50 years have led to the increase of large-scale livestock farms called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). These farms pose a threat to the environment by polluting the air and nearby ground and surface waters. In addition, adverse health effects have been found in CAFO workers and CAFO neighbors. A multitude of respiratory effects have been noted by workers and neighbors, some of which are severe enough to cause workers to leave the industry. The mental health of CAFO neighbors appears to suffer as well, mainly because of noxious odors and stress. Concentrated animal feeding operations also contribute to the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which have the potential to harm populations nationwide. Although research is being done on this topic around the world, the nursing literature contains very little information on health effects from CAFOs. Occupational, community, and public health nurses should be aware of the dangers from CAFOs and should participate in caring practices, research, and advocacy to diminish the risks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution / prevention & control
  • Animal Feed*
  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animals
  • Community Health Services
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Environmental Health / trends*
  • Environmental Pollution / prevention & control
  • Housing, Animal*
  • Humans
  • Livestock*
  • Mental Health
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects
  • Occupational Health
  • Odorants
  • Public Health
  • Public Health Nursing
  • Social Justice


  • Air Pollutants