Towards Public Knowledge on Hog Confinements – Primer on the Request Packet to the County Board of Health
The request that the county notifies its residents of known “public
health threats” due to living in proximity to hog confinements, and
fields where confinement waste is applied, will be informative and will
operate on a number of levels.
1. Generally: it will educate the public. By being educated about the
dangers coming from industrial hog confinements, the public will be
empowered to make informed decisions, rather than working from
2. Particularly: it will allow the public to take measures and
precautions to protect themselves. Such as:
a. putting correct bio-filters in your HVAC system that will filter out
hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia gasses.
b. cancel, or don’t renew, hog waste application contracts you may have
c. ask neighbors to cancel or not renew application contracts.
d. get baseline testing of your well.
e. if you wish to file a nuisance suit, start keeping a log of times and
dates, for both inside and outside your house, when odor is present.
Nuisance suits have not shut down confinements, but might get you a fair
market buyout if you want to move. (include well testing in those logs)
f. keep your children away from confinements and fields where
confinement waste has been applied.
g. if hospitalized, make sure you tell your doctor you may be colonized
with MRSA due to living in proximity to confinements or fields where
confinement waste is applied. If you are already colonized with MRSA,
your chances of getting a MRSA infection increases.
3. Contextually: it will end the corporate ag apologists’ (they say
there is no danger) dominance in the conversation about the dangerous
reality of industrial hog confinements. People will have the knowledge
to make their own decisions about the relative safety or danger from
living in proximity to confinements or fields where confinement waste is
spread. And, they can take part in conversations knowing they understand
their situation correctly.
One argument that you may hear when you take this to your County Board
of Health or Supervisors is that this is not credible science, or it is
just a few studies. Do not worry about those arguments. We have given
you two sets of studies: 268 studies having to do with MRSA and
antibiotic resistance, and 192 studies having to do with the human
health and environmental damage caused by hydrogen-sulfide and ammonia
being vented 24/7/365 into the neighborhood and the larger environment
from industrial hog confinements. Those are published peer-reviewed
studies and tell a consistent story of the prevalence and dangers of
MRSA, hydrogen-sulfide, and ammonia for human health, animals, and the
We are hoping that we have put this together in a way that is
understandable and useable for you. If you have questions, please
contact us. If you wish to have us come with you as you present this to
your Board of Health, or, if you don’t have a Board of Health, to your
County Supervisors, please contact us.
This primer is for you and should not be included with the packet you
give to your county officials. The reasoning behind the request and the
advantages for the public mentioned in this primer are also in the cover
letter in the packet. The cover letter and the packet should be enough
for your county to understand the dangers from hog confinements, and
what the request of them is about.
Nuts and Bolts: besides supplying the packet electronically, we
recommend that you print a hardcopy of the packet for each official of
the Board you are making the request of. To adapt the cover letter to
your county, simply change the appropriate names to reflect your county,
and to reflect who is making the request.