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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Vadose Zone Processes and Chemical Transport

Depth Distribution of Sulfonamide Antibiotics in Pore Water of an Undisturbed Loamy Grassland Soil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 2, p. 588-596
    Received: Sept 7, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): christian.stamm@eawag.ch
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  1. Michael Burkhardta and
  2. Christian Stamm *b
  1. a Dep. of Urban Water Management, Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), Überlandstrasse 133, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland
    b Dep. of Environmental Chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), Überlandstrasse 133, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland


Despite the concern raised by the detections of veterinary antibiotics like sulfonamides (SA) in the environment, their fate in soils is still not sufficiently understood. In a previous article, we demonstrated that manure may substantially influence losses of SA via runoff from soils. Here, we report on the effect of manure on SA availability in soil pore water. Three sulfonamides (sulfadimidine, sulfadiazine, sulfathiazole) and two tracers (bromide and Brilliant Blue) were either applied in manure or as aqueous solution on grassland plots. After 1 and 3 d contact time, the plots were irrigated with deionized water. One day after irrigation, soil cores were taken and profiles of pore water concentrations were determined. The median SA concentrations of the top layer on manured plots varied between 40 and 60 μg L−1 and between 10 and 30 μg L−1 on the controls. For the conservative tracer Br the mass recovery was about 60 to 75% and much lower for the SA (2 to 14%). Apparent distribution coefficients K d,app of the SA in the topsoil ranged between 3 and 15 L kg−1 on the manured plots and between 30 to 35 kg L−1 on the controls. Below the top layer, the concentration distribution showed a pattern typical for preferential flow. Locally, SA concentrations down to 30- to 50-cm depth were as high as in the top 5 cm with little effect of the two application matrices. In the topmost layer, the data indicate that 10 to 25% of sulfadimidine were transformed to its acetyl-metabolite.

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