North Carolina communities also had higher rates of those illnesses than communities in two other big pork-producing states, Iowa and Minnesota, she said. The reasons behind that difference may be the subject of a follow-up Duke study.
Kravchenko’s paper was published in the North Carolina Medical Journal in September, just days after Florence came ashore near Wilmington. The storm dumped an average of 17.5 inches of rain over a 14,000-square-mile stretch of the Carolinas, swamping towns in the low-lying coastal plain. More than 30 lagoons of hog waste overflowed as a result, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Some parts of the state also saw heavy rains this week from Tropical Storm Michael, which dumped several more inches of rain on the Carolinas after slamming into the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane.
RELATED: ‘Farm in a Box’ Could Protect Food Supplies After Extreme Weather Events
The North Carolina Pork Council, which represents the state’s hog farmers, did not respond to requests for comment on the study.
Kravchenko’s findings aren’t surprising to people like Naeema Muhammad, who has fought for tighter regulations on large farms for years.
“I don’t wish this crap we’re dealing with on nobody,” Muhammad, the co-director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, told Seeker. In communities near the farms, she said, “the air stinks all the time,” and people complain of nausea, headaches, skin rashes, and watery eyes. Previous studies have documented high levels of bacteria associated with hog waste in waterways near farms.