Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Occurrence of free estrogens, conjugated estrogens, and bisphenol A in fresh livestock excreta and their removal by composting in North China

  • 626 Accesses

  • 11 Citations


An efficient pretreatment and analytical method was developed to investigate the occurrence and fate of four free estrogens (estrone (E1), 17β-estradiol (17β-E2), estriol (E3), and 17α-ethinylestradiol (EE2)), four conjugated estrogens (estrone-3-sulfate sodium salt (E1-3S), 17β-estradiol-3-sulfate sodium salt (E2-3S), estrone-3-glucuronide sodium salt (E1-3G), and 17β-estradiol-3-glucuronide sodium salt (E2-3G)), and bisphenol A (BPA) in three livestock farms raising beef cattle, cows, sheep, swine, and chickens in Qi County, which is located in North China. The results demonstrated that one cow and one beef cattle excreted 956.25–1,270.41 and 244.38–319.99 μg/day of total (free and conjugated) estrogen, respectively, primarily through feces (greater than 91 %), while swine excreted 260.09–289.99 μg/day of estrogens, primarily through urine (98–99 %). The total estrogen excreted in sheep and broiler chicken feces was calculated to be 21.64–28.67 and 4.62–5.40 μg/day, respectively. It was determined that conjugated estrogens contributed to 21.1–21.9 % of the total estrogen excreted in cow feces and more than 98 % of the total estrogen excreted in swine urine. After composting, the concentration of total estrogen decreased by 18.7–59.6 %; however, increased levels of BPA were measured. In treated compost samples, estrogens were detected at concentrations up to 74.0 ng/g, which indicates a potential risk of estrogens entering the surrounding environment.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. Bartelt-Hunt S, Snow DD, Damon-Powell T, Miesbach D (2011) Occurrence of steroid hormones and antibiotics in shallow groundwater impacted by livestock waste control facilities. J Contam Hydrol 123:94–103

  2. Belfroid AC, Van der Horst A, Vethaak AD, Sch A, Fer AJ, Rijs G, Wegener J, Cofino WP (1999) Analysis and occurrence of estrogenic hormones and their glucuronides in surface water and waste water in The Netherlands. Sci Total Environ 225:101–108

  3. Cao J, Shi J, Han R, Li Y, Yang Z (2010) Seasonal variations in the occurrence and distribution of estrogens and pharmaceuticals in the Zhangweinanyun river system. Chin Sci Bull 55:3138–3144

  4. Chen Q, Shi J, Wu W, Liu X, Zhang H (2012) A new pretreatment and improved method for determination of selected estrogens in high matrix solid sewage samples by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. Microchem J 104:49–55

  5. Chen T, Chen T, Yeh KJC, Chao H, Liaw E, Hsieh CY, Chen K, Hsieh LT, Yeh YL (2010) High estrogen concentrations in receiving river discharge from a concentrated livestock feedlot. Sci Total Environ 408:3223–3230

  6. Coleman HM, Routledge EJ, Sumpter JP, Eggins BR, Byrne JA (2004) Rapid loss of estrogenicity of steroid estrogens by UVA photolysis and photocatalysis over an immobilised titanium dioxide catalyst. Water Res 38:3233–3240

  7. Combalbert S, Hernandez-Raquet G (2010) Occurrence, fate, and biodegradation of estrogens in sewage and manure. Appl Microbiol Biot 86:1671–1692

  8. Combalbert S, Pype M, Bernet N, Hernandez-Raquet G (2010) Enhanced methods for conditioning, storage, and extraction of liquid and solid samples of manure for determination of steroid hormones by solid-phase extraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem 398:973–984

  9. Combalbert S, Bellet V, Dabert P, Bernet N, Balaguer P, Hernandez-Raquet G (2011) Fate of steroid hormones and endocrine activities in swine manure disposal and treatment facilities. Water Res 46:895–906

  10. D'Ascenzo G, Di Corcia A, Gentili A, Mancini R, Mastropasqua R, Nazzari M, Samperi R (2003) Fate of natural estrogen conjugates in municipal sewage transport and treatment facilities. Sci Total Environ 302:199–209

  11. Durant AA, Fente CA, Franco CM, Vázquez BI, Cepeda A (2002) Gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry determination of 17α-ethinylestradiol residue in the hair of cattle. Application to treated animals. J Agr Food Chem 50:436–440

  12. Dutta S, Inamdar S, Tso J, Aga DS, Sims JT (2010) Free and conjugated estrogen exports in surface-runoff from poultry litter-amended soil. J Environ Qual 39:1688–1698

  13. Dutta S, Inamdar S, Tso J, Aga DS (2012) Concentrations of free and conjugated estrogens at different landscape positions in an agricultural watershed receiving poultry litter. Water Air Soil Poll 225:2821–2836

  14. El Kader NA, Robin P, Paillat JM, Leterme P (2007) Turning, compacting and the addition of water as factors affecting gaseous emissions in farm manure composting. Bioresour Technol 98:2619–2628

  15. Fromme H, Küchler T, Otto T, Pilz K, Müller J, Wenzel A (2002) Occurrence of phthalates and bisphenol A and F in the environment. Water Resour 36:1429–1438

  16. Hanselman TA, Graetz DA, Wilkie AC (2003) Manure-borne estrogens as potential environmental contaminants: a review. Environ Sci Technol 37:5471–5478

  17. Hutchins SR, White MV, Hudson FM, Fine DD (2007) Analysis of lagoon samples from different concentrated animal feeding operations for estrogens and estrogen conjugates. Environ Sci Technol 41:738–744

  18. Johnson AC, Williams RJ, Matthiessen P (2006) The potential steroid hormone contribution of farm animals to freshwaters, the United Kingdom as a case study. Sci Total Environ 362:166–178

  19. Kumar V, Nakada N, Yasojima M, Yamashita N, Johnson AC, Tanaka H (2011) The arrival and discharge of conjugated estrogens from a range of different sewage treatment plants in the UK. Chemosphere 82:1124–1128

  20. Lange IG, Daxenberger A, Schiffer B, Witters H, Ibarreta D, Meyer HHD (2002) Sex hormones originating from different livestock production systems: fate and potential disrupting activity in the environment. Analytica Chimica Acta 473:27–37

  21. Le TAH, Clemens J, Nguyen TH (2012) Performance of different composting techniques in reducing oestrogens content in manure from livestock in a Vietnamese setting. Environ Monit Assess 185:415–423

  22. Liu S, Ying G, Zhang R, Zhou L, Lai H, Chen Z (2012) Fate and occurrence of steroids in swine and dairy cattle farms with different farming scales and wastes disposal systems. Environ Pollut 170:190–201

  23. MEPC (Ministry of Environmental Protection of the People’s Republic of China) (2001) Discharge standard of pollutants for livestock and poultry breeding, Beijing (in Chinese)

  24. MOA (The Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of China) (2013) Approved feed additives (2013). Ministry of Agriculture the People’s Republic of China, Beijing (in Chinese)

  25. Palme R, Fischer P, Schildorfer H, Ismail MN (1996) Excretion of 14C-steroid hormones via feces and urine in domestic livestock. Anim Reprod Sci 43:43–63

  26. Panter GH, Thompson RS, Beresford N, Sumpter JP (1999) Transformation of a non-oestrogenic steroid metabolite to an oestrogenically active substance by minimal bacterial activity. Chemosphere 38:3579–3596

  27. Panter GH, Thompson RS, Sumpter JP (2000) Intermittent exposure of fish to estradiol. Environ Sci Technol 34:2756–2760

  28. Parkinson R, Gibbs P, Burchett S, Misselbrook T (2004) Effect of turning regime and seasonal weather conditions on nitrogen and phosphorus losses during aerobic composting of cattle manure. Bioresour Technol 91:171–178

  29. QAHB (Qi Animal Husbandry Bureau) (2011) Development planning of livestock breeding in Qi County. Available from:

  30. Raman DR, Williams EL, Layton AC, Burns RT, James P, Daugherty AS, Mullen MD, Sayler GS (2004) Estrogen content of dairy and swine wastes. Environ Sci Technol 38:3567–3573

  31. Shi J, Fujisawa S, Nakai S, Hosomi M (2004) Biodegradation of natural and synthetic estrogens by nitrifying activated sludge and ammonia-oxidizing bacterium Nitrosomonas europaea. Water Resour 38:2323–2330

  32. Shi J, Liu X, Cao J, Li Y, Yang Z (2013a) Occurrence and risk assessment of estrogens and anti-inflammatories in Baiyangdian Lake, North China. Environ Eng Manag J12:1437–1445

  33. Shi J, Chen Q, Liu X, Zhan X, Li J, Li Z (2013b) Sludge/water partition and biochemical transformation of estrone and 17β-estradiol in a pilot-scale step-feed anoxic/oxic wastewater treatment system. Biochem Eng J 74:107–114

  34. Shore LS, Shemesh M (2003) Topic 2.2: Naturally produced steroid hormones and their release into the environment. Pure Appl Chem 75:1859–1872

  35. Sumpter JP, Jobling S (1995) Vitellogenesis as a biomarker for estrogenic contamination of the aquatic environment. Environ Health Perspect 103:173–178

  36. Ternes TA, Stumpf M, Mueller J (1999) Behaviour and occurrence of estrogens in municipal sewage treatment plants—II. Aerobic batch experiments with activated sludge. Sci Total Environ 225:91–99

Download references


This study was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2010CB429003), Special Fund of State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control (No. 13L01ESPC), and Youth Science and Technology Fund for Shanxi Basic Research Project (2013011040-7). The manuscript has been edited by Elsevier Webshop Support for the English language.

Author information

Correspondence to Jianghong Shi.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Ester Heath

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.


(DOC 214 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zhang, H., Shi, J., Liu, X. et al. Occurrence of free estrogens, conjugated estrogens, and bisphenol A in fresh livestock excreta and their removal by composting in North China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21, 9939–9947 (2014).

Download citation


  • Estrogen
  • Conjugates
  • Fresh excreta
  • Compost
  • Removal