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Dissipation of antibiotics in three different agricultural soils after repeated application of biosolids


Application of biosolids to agricultural soils is one of the pathways by which antibiotics can be introduced into agricultural ecosystems. A pot experiment was conducted with repeated soil amendment with biosolids to examine the concentrations of four classes of antibiotics (tetracyclines, sulfonamides, fluoroquinolones, and macrolides) and their dissipation in three different soil types in wheat-rice rotations. Antibiotics accumulate in the soils after repeated application of biosolids. Fluoroquinolones showed stronger accumulation and persistence in the test soils than the other three classes of antibiotics. The maximum residual antibiotic concentration was that of norfloxacin at 155 ± 16 μg kg−1 in the Typic Hapli-Stagnic Anthrosols (paddy soil). Predicted half-lives were up to 3.69 years, a much longer period than that between biosolid applications (twice each year on average). Antibiotic accumulation followed the rough order fluoroquinolones > tetracyclines > macrolides > sulfonamides, and the sulfonamides were seldom encountered. When biosolid application was suspended, the dissipation rate accelerated. Antibiotic dissipation was slightly slower when biosolids with high heavy metal concentrations were applied and microbial degradation may have been the main mechanism of dissipation. Norfloxacin persistence was positively correlated with its soil adsorption capacity. Cation exchange capacity and soil organic matter content may have vital roles in the soil adsorption of fluoroquinolones. Because of their persistence, the fluoroquinolones must be taken into account in the planning of biosolid applications in agricultural practice.

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This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (projects 41271326 and 41325003).

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Correspondence to Longhua Wu.

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Responsible editor: Zhihong Xu

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Yang, L., Wu, L., Liu, W. et al. Dissipation of antibiotics in three different agricultural soils after repeated application of biosolids. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 104–114 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-8062-6

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  • Antibiotics
  • Biosolids
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Rice-wheat rotations
  • Repeated amendment
  • Soils