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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Fate of 17β-Estradiol in Anaerobic Lagoon Digesters


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 43 No. 2, p. 701-708
    Received: June 20, 2013
    Published: June 23, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s): heldur.hakk@ars.usda.gov
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  1. Heldur Hakk *a,
  2. Lawrence Sikorab,
  3. Francis X. M. Caseyc and
  4. Gerald L. Larsena
  1. a USDA–ARS, Biosciences Research Laboratory, Fargo, ND 58102-2765
    b Compost Utilization and Systems, China Village, ME 04926
    c Dep. of Soil Science, School of Natural Resource Sciences, North Dakota State Univ., Fargo, ND 58108-6050


The fate of [14C]17β-estradiol ([14C]E2) was monitored for 42 d in triplicate 10-L anaerobic digesters. Total radioactive residues decreased rapidly in the liquid layer of the digesters and reached a steady-state value of 22 to 26% of the initial dose after 5 d. High-performance liquid chromatography and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analyses of the liquid layer of the anaerobic digesters indicated a rapid degradation of E2 to estrone (E1), which readily adsorbed to the sludge layer subsequent to its formation. Estrone was the predominant steroid identified under anaerobic digestion in the liquid layer or sorbed to sludge at 42 d. Methane formation represented 11.1 ± 5.7% of the initial E2 fortification with 0.3 to 0.5% of the starting E2 mineralized to carbon dioxide. Maximum [14C]methane production appeared between Days 4 and 7. An estimate of estrogenicity of the final product based on reported estrogen equivalents for E1 and E2 was 2% of the original in active digesters. Anaerobic digestion of swine waste has several management benefits; moreover, this study demonstrated that it reduces the potential of environmental release of estrogens, which are known endocrine disruptors.

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