BRUSSELS - 142 million pigs, 76 million bovine heads, 62 million sheep, and 12 million goats, and counting: this is the invisible yearly population of farmed animals that live and die on the production line in Europe. Industrial livestock farming across Europe is causing widespread environmental degradation and serious damage to the health of people living in close proximity to factory farms.

Noise, smell, air toxicity, chronic disease, water pollution: factory farms project negative externalities that hit neighbouring communities first, transforming local ecologies and endangering health and welfare.

In times of increasingly frequent novel epidemics and pandemics, many scientists claim that factory farms, with their unique conditions, have become dangerous pathogenic breeding grounds. Evidence suggests that living near factory farms decreases basic quality of life. Strong odours force residents to stay indoors and coexist with afflictions impacting mental and physical health.

Hydrogen sulphide, particulate pollution, ammonia, volatile organic compounds: besides greenhouse gases, there is a number of externalities that factory farms release making people sick in the short and long run, causing flu-like symptoms or triggering the development and deterioration of respiratory pathologies.

Released into the atmosphere, ammonia turns into PM2.5 - especially dangerous for human health and listed as a group1 carcinogenic. Exposure to it is linked to heart and lung conditions. Increasing evidence points to higher cancer rates in regions dense with intensive animal farming.

Long Shadow is a visual research-based cross-border investigation documenting how local communities across Europe coexist with and struggle against nearby factory farms.

Team members

Selene Magnolia Gatti

Selene Magnolia Gatti is an Italian award-winning visual journalist based in Berlin and Northern Italy.

Helena Spongenberg

Helena Spongenberg is a Danish journalist with 20 years of experience.

19,600 allocated on 23/05/2023



  • Denmark
  • France
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Spain

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