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Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Aug 1;42(15):5521-6.

Transport of testosterone and estrogen from dairy-farm waste lagoons to groundwater.

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Department of Environmental Hydrology and Microbiology, Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer 84990, Israel


Although concentrated animal feeding operations constantly generate physiologically active steroidal hormones, little is known of their environmental fate. Estrogen and testosterone concentrations in groundwater and their distribution in sediments below a dairy-farm wastewater lagoon were therefore determined and compared to a reference site located upgradient of the farm. Forward simulations of flow as well as estrogen and testosterone transport were conducted based on data from the sediment profile obtained during drilling of a monitoring well belowthe dairy-farm waste lagoon. Testosterone and estrogen were detected in sediments to depths of 45 and 32 m, respectively. Groundwater samples were directly impacted by the dairy farm, as evidenced by elevated concentrations of nitrate, chloride, testosterone, and estrogen as compared to the reference site. Modeling potential transport of hormones in the vadose zone via advection, dispersion, and sorption could not explain the depths at which estrogen and testosterone were found, suggesting that other transport mechanisms influence hormone transport under field conditions. These mechanisms may involve interactions between hormones and manure as well as preferential flow paths, leading to enhanced transport rates. These types of interactions should be further investigated to understand the processes regulating hormone transport in the subsurface environment and parametrized to forecast long-term fate and transport of steroidal hormones.

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