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The rapid expansion of large-scale pork production has been accompanied by increasing concerns regarding potential detrimental consequences of environmental hazards on the health of producers. This study makes use of health indicators obtained from attendees at the World Pork Expo between 1991 and 1995 to evaluate the impact of pork production generally and of confinement production, specifically, on producer health. The analysis expands existing studies because the larger number of participants allows for detailed analysis, both nonfarmers and non-pork farmers are used as controls, both objective as well as self-reported health measures are considered, and personal characteristics such as height, weight, age, gender, smoking habits, and years of exposure to confinement operations and swine operations are controlled. The analysis shows that pork producers are more likely to report nagging respiratory symptoms (cough, sinus problems, sore throat) than are other farmers. Confinement operators have increased incidence of some symptoms relative to other pork producers. However, there was no evidence of permanent loss of pulmonary function associated with pork production or confinement operation. Farmers suffered from a greater incidence of hearing loss and loss of dominant hand strength relative to nonfarmers. Pork producers had even greater incidence of lost hand strength than other farmers but had no added incidence of hearing loss. On the plus side, farmers had lower blood pressure than did nonfarmers.


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