"From the perspective of worker and community health, this is a step in the right direction," said Ana Rule, the study's lead author and a doctoral candidate at the Bloomberg School's Department of Environmental Health Sciences. "This technology addresses only a portion of the hazards workers and communities face from concentrated animal feeding facilities."
Rule explained there is growing interest in technologies that improve indoor air quality and control emissions to reduce the public health and environmental risks associated with raising large numbers of animals in confined spaces. In addition to particulate matter and ammonia, recent studies have shown that concentrated feeding operations also produce antibiotic-resistant pathogens. The oil spray technology provides animal producers with a tool to reduce some air pollution hazards to workers and neighbors, and help them comply with local, state and federal air pollution regulations. Although substantial improvement in barn air quality was achieved in the Hopkins study, questions remain as to whether it is enough to protect public health.
"We need to continue our collaboration with the private developers of these products to not only improve their efficacy, but to also demonstrate their utility in other agricultural operations, including poultry and dairy," said the study's senior author Timothy J. Buckley, PhD, a former associate professor at the Bloomberg School who now chairs the Division of Environmental Health Sciences at the Ohio State University School of Public Health. "These results are encouraging, but much work remains to be done."
Rule, A. Chapin, S.A. McCarthy, K.E. Gibson, K.J. Schwab and T.J. Buckley, co-authored the study, "Assessment of an Aerosol Treatment To Improve Air Quality in a Swine Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)."
The study was supported by the NIOSH Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health and theCenter for a Livable Future, both at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Media contact for the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future: Donna Mennitto at 410-502-2317 or firstname.lastname@example.org.