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From agricultural fields to surface water systems: the overland transport of veterinary antibiotics

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Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study was to assess if veterinary antibiotics, which are introduced to agricultural fields via fertilizer, are present in water systems (in both water and sediment) following overland transport via runoff and soil erosion.

Materials and methods

Three water and sediment sampling schemes were conducted in Germany between June 2013 and June 2014 to examine the effects of (1) season, (2) heavy rainfall and (3) high veterinary antibiotic usage. The samples were analysed for 15 veterinary antibiotics using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.

Results and discussion

Antibiotics were detected in all three schemes in trace quantities. This is the first time that veterinary antibiotics have been detected in German sediment.

Conclusions

In particular, the presence of tetracycline in sediment taken from irrigation ditches in an agricultural area of high veterinary antibiotic usage offers proof that the overland transport of veterinary antibiotics is occurring. Due to the strong sorption of veterinary antibiotics (particularly tetracyclines) to soils, further research into their transport via soil erosion and assessment of their presence in sediment is advised.

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Acknowledgments

This work is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and was conducted within the RiSKWa-funded research project RiskAGuA, grants 02WRS1274A/B. Many thanks go to Christian Röder and Frank Wieczorek from the State Authority for Mining, Energy and Geology (LBEG), Lower Saxony, Germany; the Höck family; North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and Tobias Schruff (IWW) for their support with sample taking and to Franziska Ribbe (IWW) for her conceptual and technical advice.

Author information

Correspondence to Caroline Bailey.

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Responsible editor: Henner Hollert

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Bailey, C., Spielmeyer, A., Frings, R.M. et al. From agricultural fields to surface water systems: the overland transport of veterinary antibiotics. J Soils Sediments 15, 1630–1634 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-015-1140-4

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Keywords

  • Environmental contamination
  • Overland transport
  • Sediment
  • Surface water
  • Veterinary antibiotics