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

Effects of pH and Manure on Transport of Sulfonamide Antibiotics in Soil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 5, p. 1652-1660
    Received: Dec 21, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): michael.radke@itm.su.se
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  1. Claudia Straussa,
  2. Thomas Harterb and
  3. Michael Radke *ac
  1. a Dep. of Hydrology, BayCEER, Univ. of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
    b Dep. of Land, Air, and Water Resources, Univ. of California, Davis, CA 95616-8628
    c current address: Dep. of Applied Environmental Science, Stockholm Univ., 10691 Stockholm, Sweden. Assigned to Associate Editor Christian Stamm


Sulfonamide antibiotics are a commonly used group of compounds in animal husbandry. They are excreted with manure, which is collected in a storage lagoon in certain types of confined animal feeding operations. Flood irrigation of forage fields with this liquid manure creates the potential risk of groundwater contamination in areas with shallow groundwater levels. We tested the hypothesis that—in addition to the soil characteristics—manure as cosolute and manure pH are two major parameters influencing sulfonamide transport in soils. Solute displacement experiments in repacked, saturated soil columns were performed with soil (loamy sand) and manure from a dairy farm in California. Breakthrough of nonreactive tracer and sulfadimethoxine, sulfamethazine, and sulfamethoxazole at different solution pH (5, 6.5, 8.5) with and without manure was modeled using Hydrus–1D to infer transport and reaction parameters. Tracer and sulfonamide breakthrough curves were well explained by a model concept based on physical nonequilibrium transport, equilibrium sorption, and first-order dissipation kinetics. Sorption of the antibiotics was low (Kd ≤ 0.7 L kg−1) and only weakly influenced by pH and manure. However, sulfonamide attenuation was significantly affected by both pH and manure. The mass recovery of sulfonamides decreased with decreasing pH, e.g., for sulfamethoxazole from 77 (pH 8.5) to 56% (pH 5). The sulfonamides were highly mobile under the studied conditions, but manure application increased their attenuation substantially. The observed attenuation was most likely caused by a combination of microbial transformation and irreversible sorption to the soil matrix.

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