Guest Column: So you think hog farms are OK? A personal story

By Barb Tetzlaff

I am at a crossroads in my life. My troubles began after my husband and I bought a small acreage in south central Iowa. We never thought our neighbor would bring in hogs after we moved in and spray stench-filled, putrid, toxic hog manure all around us. These exposures went on for years, and the results were devastating. My life felt more and more like a tragedy and was nothing like my dreams.

My entire family was tested at length by Dr. Kaye H. Kilburn, a chemical poisoning expert. Today, we are learning to endure the conditions he attributed to those chronic sprays: chemical encephalopathy (impairment, deterioration of brain processing), peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage), airway obstruction (impaired lung function), memory loss, scotoma (vision impairment) and more.

The constant spraying of raw hog feces made our lives miserable and full of sickness, worry, hopelessness, depression, anger and despair. He sprayed too much, too close to us, too often. The damage took effect. Hog manure itself is host to more than 200 known poisons including hydrogen sulfide gas and ammonia. Their effect is powerful, and they wreak havoc on a person’s throat and lungs, eyes, ears, nervous system, and even their brain.

I have decided to follow a path of forgiveness for all the health damages, harassment and intimidation we went through. I have to put the pain of those events behind me so my daughter will have a chance to forget the traumatic past and have hope for a bright future somehow. We have to try.

But I have a warning for you: Mega-hog interests have no concern for you. They do not care about your health. Once they move into your town, you may find, as we did, that your rights, as property owners, do not exist!

Please remember what happened to my family. You do not want to have to ever be at this crossroads. Thanks for covering what happened to us out here. I remember those dark times, every time I look at my daughter’s face.

From the July 14-20, 2010 issue

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