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Chemosphere. 2009 Mar;75(1):13-9. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2008.11.070. Epub 2009 Jan 6.

Effects of agricultural conditions on the leaching behaviour of veterinary antibiotics in soils.

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Cranfield Centre for EcoChemistry, Shardlow Hall, Shardlow, Derby, Derbyshire DE72 2GN, UK.


Antibiotics may be released to soils during the application of manure as fertiliser to land. The compounds may subsequently be transported to and contaminate groundwater and surface waters. This paper describes a series of lysimeter-based studies to explore the leaching behaviour of three veterinary antibiotics (sulfachloropyridazine, oxytetracycline and tylosin) under different conditions that could occur in the agricultural environment. The specific objectives were to: (1) explore the influence of slurry amendment and incorporation on leaching; (2) assess the effects of climate on leaching behaviour; and (3) evaluate the predictive capability of a leaching model used in the regulatory assessment of veterinary medicines. Sulfachloropyridazine was detected sporadically in leachate at concentrations up to 0.66 microg L(-1) under typical irrigation conditions and more frequently at concentrations up to 8.5 microg L(-1) under extreme irrigation conditions. Incorporation and timing of rainfall had no effect on leaching behaviour. Oxytetracycline and tylosin were not detected in any leachate samples. These differences in behaviour were explained by the sorption and persistence characteristics of the compounds. Comparison of the experimental measurements with simulations from the leaching model indicated that the model greatly underestimates the transport of antibiotics to groundwater which raises questions over the application of these models in the regulatory risk assessment process.

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