Livestock odors: implications for human health and well-being

J Anim Sci. 1998 May;76(5):1343-55. doi: 10.2527/1998.7651343x.


The purpose of this paper is to examine the potential effects of livestock odors on the health and well-being of neighbors. Complaints of odor nuisance have become more frequent in communities surrounding areas with high concentrations of livestock. This increase in complaints from livestock odors parallels increased complaints of odor in general, including ammonia, diesel exhaust, beauty products, cleaners, and paints. Persons who report symptoms from odors generally find problems with many different types of odorous compounds. A review of recent studies suggests that the main complaints of health symptoms from odors are eye, nose, and throat irritation, headache, and drowsiness. Sensory irritation (pungency) can be produced by a broad range of odorous volatile organic compounds from trees, flowers, foods (pepper and ginger) as well as emissions from livestock operations. Odors can also potentially affect mood and memory. Further research is required to assess fully the health impact of odors in order to establish recommendations for air quality guidelines based on scientific data.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution* / adverse effects
  • Air Pollution* / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic*
  • Attitude
  • Brain / physiology
  • Eye Diseases / etiology
  • Headache / etiology
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Memory Disorders / etiology
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Nose Diseases / etiology
  • Odorants*
  • Perception / physiology
  • Pharyngeal Diseases / etiology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Sleep Stages
  • Stress, Physiological / etiology
  • Swine