A new study conducted by researchers in The Netherlands and published last month in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that people who live near factory farms have reduced lung function. The study tested the pulmonary health of 2,308 adults between the ages of 20 and 72 and found that those who lived within the closest proximity to factory farms (within 1,000 meters or 0.6 miles) exhibited the most impaired breathing. Residents’ lung function was further impaired during weeks of high ammonia emissions—which come from animal waste—from the surrounding factory farms. “It’s well known that air pollution causes lung problems, and usually we think about air pollution from industry,” the study’s lead author Lidwien Smit told media outlet Reuters. “Our study shows that air pollution from livestock farms is causing lung function declines in areas where people live near farms.” As highlighted in the new documentary What the Health (now available on Netflix), residents that live near US-based factory farms are disproportionately people of color.
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