Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)

Transport and fate of estrogenic hormones in slurry-treated soil monoliths

Received for publication October 29, 2007. The naturally occurring hormones, such as 17-β-estradiol, 17-{alpha}-estradiol, and estrone, present in livestock manure may have detrimental environmental effects if released into surface waters. In areas where manure application is intensive, estrogens have been found in surface waters in concentrations known to affect the endocrine system of fish and amphibians. How the estrogens reach the surface waters is unclear. To investigate whether leaching through the soil profile plays a significant role, we conducted leaching experiments on intact soil cores. Lysimeter soil monoliths (60 cm in diameter and 100 cm long) were excavated from two sites in Denmark (one loamy and one sandy soil). The soil monoliths were treated with pig slurry containing estrogenic hormones and amended with an estrogen tracer (17-{alpha}-ethinylestradiol) and a conservative tracer (bromide). 17-{alpha}-ethinylestradiol is a synthetic analog of 17-β-estradiol with sorption characteristics and molecular structure similar to those of the naturally occurring estrogens in slurry. The monoliths were exposed to a short-term irrigation event (12 h) followed by a long-term semi-field experiment (16 wk), during which leaching of natural estrogens and tracers was followed. Estrogens from slurry were transported to a depth of 1 m in loamy soil and sandy soil. The estrogen concentrations in the leachate were at a level known to affect the endocrine system of aquatic organisms.

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