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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Decrease in Water-Soluble 17β-Estradiol and Testosterone in Composted Poultry Manure with Time


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 3, p. 943-950
    Received: Apr 26, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): hakkh@fargo.ars.usda.gov
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  1. Heldur Hakk *a,
  2. Patricia Millnerb and
  3. Gerald Larsena
  1. a USDA-ARS, Biosciences Research Laboratory, Fargo, ND 58105
    b USDA-ARS, Soil Microbial Systems Laboratory, Beltsville, MD 20705


Little attention has been paid to the environmental fate of the hormones 17β-estradiol and testosterone excreted in animal waste. Land application of manure has a considerable potential to affect the environment with these endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs). Composting is known to decompose organic matter to a stable, humus-like material. The goal of the present study was to quantitatively assess levels of water-soluble 17β-estradiol and testosterone in composting chicken manure with time. Chicken layer manure was mixed with hay, straw, decomposed leaves, and starter compost, adjusted to approximately 60% moisture, and placed into a windrow. A clay-amended windrow was also prepared. Windrows were turned weekly, and temperature, oxygen, and CO2 in the composting mass were monitored for either 133 or 139 d. Commercial enzyme immunoassay kits were used to quantitate the levels of 17β-estradiol and testosterone in aqueous sample extracts. Water-soluble quantities of both hormones diminished during composting. The decrease in 17β-estradiol followed first-order kinetics, with a rate constant k = −0.010/d. Testosterone levels declined at a slightly higher rate than 17β-estradiol (i.e., k = −0.015/d). Both hormones could still be measured in aqueous extracts of compost sampled at the conclusion of composting. The decline in water-soluble 17β-estradiol and testosterone in extracts of clay-amended compost was not statistically different from normal compost. These data suggest that composting may be an environmentally friendly technology suitable for reducing, but not eliminating, the concentrations of these endocrine disrupting hormones at concentrated animal operation facilities.

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