Intensive hog farming operations and self-reported health among nearby rural residents in Ottawa, Canada

Villeneuve, Paul J.; Ali, Amira; Challacombe, Laurel; Hebert, Sophie
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9, p330
Academic Journal
Background: In 2004, hog farming operations were introduced in the village of Sarsfield in the eastern part of Ottawa, Canada. This study evaluates the health-related quality of life (HRQOL), and the prevalence of respiratory conditions among adults and children who lived in proximity to this farm. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was administered to a random sample of residents from seven rural communities in the eastern part of Ottawa, Canada. We analyzed self-reported questionnaire data obtained from 723 adults and 285 children/adolescents. HRQOL was assessed using the SF- 36 survey instrument, while data were also collected for socio-demographic characteristics, the prevalence of selected health conditions, and lifestyle related behaviours (e.g., smoking) of participants. Variations in self-reported health according to the residential distance to the hog farm were evaluated using logistic regression and analysis of variance methods. Results: For the most part, the prevalence of selected health conditions among adults and children was not associated with how far they lived from the farm. No associations were observed with migraines, respiratory conditions (asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, and chronic bronchitis), and allergies. However, a higher prevalence of depression was noted among those who lived within 3 km of the farm relative to those who lived more than 9 km away (odds ratio = 2.01, 95% CI = 1.11, 3.65). Furthermore, individuals who lived closer to the IHF were more likely to worry about environmental issues such as water quality, outdoor and indoor smells, and air pollution. This level of worry also contributed to lower HRQOL scores for individuals who lived closer to the farm. It was also observed that the prevalence of depression was much higher among those who indicated a concern about environmental issues (18.2%) when compared to those who did not (8.0%). Conclusion: While our findings suggest that living in close proximity to an IHF may adversely affect HRQOL these should be interpreted cautiously due to a lack of direct measures of environmental exposures, and possible biases inherent in the use of self-reported health measures.


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