Title: Environmental Justice and Groundwater Quality Impacts of Hog Farms in Eastern North Carolina

Abstract: North Carolina, the second-leading state in hog production, is home to over 9 million hogs and over 2000 farms. Due to the large volumes of untreated waste stored onsite in “lagoons,” hog farms have negative impacts on neighboring residents, including strong odors, decreased home values, and physical and mental health problems. I hypothesized that hog farms, like other undesirable land uses, may be concentrated in communities of lower socioeconomic status and/or communities with high proportions of nonwhite residents. I mapped hog farm locations in ArcGIS along with household locations in 14 eastern North Carolina counties to find that the most “effective manure” was experienced by black and Hispanic households, even when accounting for income. I modeled the transport of nitrate from hog waste lagoons through the groundwater aquifer to determine that wells 1 km downstream of a farm may be delivering unsafe water. High- and medium-income black households and medium- and low-income Hispanic households had more manure produced within 1 km upstream of their home compared with white households of all income levels. In the future, the methods used for this broad analysis can be tailored to smaller regions and used in conjunction with water utility data and groundwater data to identify the households within this region that are actually at risk of contamination from hog farms.

Advisors: Dr. Mark Borsuk (Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering) and Dr. Christopher Timmins (Dept. of Economics)

Start date: January 2019

End date: April 2019

View here: Griffin_Thesis