Leaching behavior of veterinary antibiotics in animal manure-applied soils

Min Pan, L. M. Chu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Agricultural fields worldwide are being contaminated by the escalating application of veterinary antibiotics (VAs) via animal manure and biosolids applied as fertilizers or of wastewater for irrigation, resulting in soil degradation and damage to the health of terrestrial environments. This paper describes a series of column studies investigating the leaching behavior of five VAs, tetracycline (TC), sulfamethazine (SMZ), norfloxacin (NOR), erythromycin (ERY) and chloramphenicol (CAP), under different simulated rainfall conditions that could occur in agricultural environments. Our aim was to explore the effects of acid rain and torrential rain on the leaching of different VAs and to determine their leaching behaviors along the soil profile. The results showed that acid rain accelerated the accumulation of VAs from animal manure in surface soil while long rainfall durations promoted the downward migration of VAs in soil. Under acid rain conditions, a higher concentration of VAs remained in the animal manure. More VAs were eluted to deeper soil layers and the leachate under extreme rainfall conditions. The leachability of VAs was higher in sandy soil than in clay or loamy soil. SMZ and ERY posed a higher risk to deeper soil layers and groundwater, while NOR and TC tended to persist in surface soil, which can be explained by their different physicochemical properties in soil. Moreover, the general trends from two model assessments and soil column measurements appeared to be in agreement. SMZ had a high leachability, while NOR tended to accumulate in soils. This study provided vital insight into the persistence mechanisms of VAs in terrestrial environments and their potential risks to soils and groundwater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-473
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Acid rain
  • Leaching ability
  • Persistence
  • Soil physicochemical properties
  • Veterinary antibiotics


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