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Environ Int. 2008 Aug;34(6):839-59. Epub 2007 Dec 4.

Chemical contaminants in feedlot wastes: concentrations, effects and attenuation.

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  • 1Centre for Water and Waste Technology, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, NSW 2054, Australia.


Commercial feedlots for beef cattle finishing are potential sources of a range of trace chemicals which have human health or environmental significance. To ensure adequate protection of human and environmental health from exposure to these chemicals, the application of effective manure and effluent management practices is warranted. The Australian meat and livestock industry has adopted a proactive approach to the identification of best management practices. Accordingly, this review was undertaken to identify key chemical species that may require consideration in the development of guidelines for feedlot manure and effluent management practices in Australia. Important classes of trace chemicals identified include steroidal hormones, antibiotics, ectoparasiticides, mycotoxins, heavy metals and dioxins. These are described in terms of their likely sources, expected concentrations and public health or environmental significance based on international data and research. Androgenic hormones such as testosterone and trenbolone are significantly active in feedlot wastes, but they are poorly understood in terms of fate and environmental implications. The careful management of residues of antibiotics including virginiamycin, tylosin and oxytetracycline appears prudent in terms of minimising the risk of potential public health impacts from resistant strains of bacteria. Good management of ectoparasiticides including synthetic pyrethroids, macrocyclic lactones, fluazuron, and amitraz is important for the prevention of potential ecological implications, particularly towards dung beetles. Very few of these individual chemical contaminants have been thoroughly investigated in terms of concentrations, effects and attenuation in Australian feedlot wastes.

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