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Sci Total Environ. 2013 Feb 1;444:26-31. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.11.054. Epub 2012 Dec 21.

17β-estradiol in runoff as affected by various poultry litter application strategies.

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Texas A&M AgriLife Research, P.O. Box 1658, Vernon, TX 76385, USA.


Steroidal hormones, which are excreted by all mammalian species, have received increasing attention in recent years due to potential environmental implications. The objective of this study was to evaluate 17β-estradiol concentrations in runoff water from plots receiving poultry litter applications using various management strategies. Treatments included the effects of 1) aluminum sulfate (alum) application rates to poultry litter; 2) time until the first runoff event occurs after poultry litter application; 3) poultry litter application rate; 4) fertilizer type; and 5) litter from birds fed modified diets. Rainfall simulators were used to cause continuous runoff from fertilized plots. Runoff samples were collected and analyzed for 17β-estradiol concentrations. Results showed that increasing alum additions to poultry litter decreased 17β-estradiol concentrations in runoff water. A significant exponential decline in 17β-estradiol runoff was also observed with increasing time until the first runoff event after litter application. Concentrations of 17β-estradiol in runoff water increased with increasing litter application rate and remained above background concentrations after three runoff events at higher application rates. Management practices such as diet modification and selection of fertilizer type were also shown to affect 17β-estradiol concentrations in runoff water. Although results from these experiments typically represented a worst case scenario since runoff events generally occurred immediately after litter application, the contaminant loss from pastures fertilized with poultry litter can be expected to be much lower than continual estradiol loadings observed from waste water treatment plants. Management practices such as alum amendment and application timing can significantly reduce the risk of 17β-estradiol losses in the environment.

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