Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Rena Jones

Second Advisor

Viveca Morris


Current literature has highlighted that concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOS) are associated with adverse health outcomes among populations living in close proximity to the farms and that, in certain states, vulnerable populations may be disproportionately exposed to CAFOs. However, none of the existing studies have assessed the sociodemographic makeup of areas highly exposed to CAFOs across a diverse geographic range. Using locations of CAFOs across six states with robust operations, we conducted logistic regression models assessing the likelihood of high exposure vs. low exposure at the census tract level for each 10% increase in sociodemographic variables (percent unemployed, percent minority, percent no high school diploma, percent living below 150% of the poverty line, percent uninsured, and percent disabled). Findings support that, across the full population, the odds of living in a high CAFO exposure census tract significantly increased for each 10% increase in the percent of the population with no high school diploma and the percent of the population living below 150% of the poverty line. Beyond overall patterns, each state’s analyses showed varying interactions between high exposure and sociodemographic variables that were not uniform across all states, highlighting the complexity of relationships across varying geographies and demographic makeups. These findings have important implications for the future of research and policies addressing environmental justice and health equity, as they demonstrate the unique demographic differences between states and draw attention to the ways in which populations may differ in their vulnerabilities.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access