The Netherlands is a country where livestock farms and residential areas are often found in close proximity. RIVM studies the effects of livestock farming on health in various populations, such as among local residents, livestock farmers and their families, and people who work on livestock farms.

People can become ill from pathogens that are carried by animals. Such pathogens are called zoonotic micro-organisms. In particular, animals living on livestock farms can carry these pathogens. Examples include Q-fever and Salmonella. Particulate matter and endotoxins (components of the exterior cell walls in certain bacteria) which are emitted along with the ventilation air from livestock farms can also cause health problems. In addition, manure from livestock farms may produce annoying odours. This could affect people who have professional contact with livestock (farmers and veterinarians), or people who live near a livestock farm.

The results of the study on Livestock Farming and the Health of Local Residents (Veehouderij en Gezondheid Omwonenden - VGO) were published in 2016. This study, carried out by RIVM, the Interfaculty Research Institute for Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Science at Utrecht University (IRAS), the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (Nivel) and Wageningen University & Research (WUR) , looked at the health effects on local residents from pathogens and air pollution from livestock farms. In 2017, a second report was published on ‘Livestock Farming and the Health of Local Residents (supplementary studies). Analysis of health effects, risk factors and emissions of bioaerosols’. This second publication reported additional analyses that presented further confirmation of earlier results.

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