USGS - science for a changing world

Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Investigations - Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment

Animal Feeding Operations

Waste samples being collected from a swine manure storage structure
Waste samples being collected from a swine manure storage structure

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The interest in veterinary pharmaceuticals as potential emerging contaminants has stemmed from the proliferation of large-scale animal feeding operations (AFOs) during the last decade. The large number of animals produced creates a proportionately large volume of animal waste and associated emerging contaminants; initial efforts for this study have focused on veterinary antibiotics. In a reconnaissance study of liquid waste at swine AFOs in Iowa and North Carolina, multiple classes of antibiotics were detected ranging from ppb to ppm concentrations. Compilation of data from liquid waste from swine operations between 1998 to 2002 found one or more antibiotics present in all of the samples. Antibiotics also have been detected in poultry litter from the Delmarva Peninsula. The data from these studies demonstrate that veterinary pharmaceuticals are excreted and frequently occur at detectable levels ranging from ppb to ppm concentrations in liquid and solid waste. Some of this research has been conducted in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control.

Available Publications

Boxall, A.B.A., Kolpin, D.W., Halling-Sorensen, B., and Tolls, J., 2003, Are veterinary medicines causing environmental risks?: Environmental Science and Technology, v. 37, no. 15, p. 286A-294A.

Campagnolo, E.R., Johnson, K.R., Karpati, A., Rubing, C.S., Kolpin, D.W., Meyer, M.T., Esteban, J.E., Currier, R.W., Smith, K., Thu, K.M., and McGeehin, M., 2002, Antimicrobial residues in animal waste and water resources proximal to large-scale swine and poultry feeding operations: The Science of the Total Environment, v. 299, no. 1-3, p. 89-95, doi:10.1016/S0048-9697(02)00233-4.

Christian, T., Schneider, R.J., Barber, H.A., Skutlarek, D., Meyer, M.T., and Goldbach, H.E., 2003, Determination of antibiotic residues in manure, soil, and surface waters: Acta Hydrochimica et Hydrobiologica, v. 31, no. 1, p. 36-44, doi:10.1002/aheh.200390014.

Leenheer, J.A., and Rostad, C.E., 2004, Fractionation and characterization of organic matter in wastewater from a swine waste-retention basin: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5217.

Meyer, M.T., 2004, Use and environmental occurrence of veterinary pharmaceuticals in the United States, in Kummerer, K., ed., Pharmaceuticals in the Environment: Sources, Fate, Effects, and Risks: Berlin, Heidelberg, New York, Springer-Verlag, p. 155-163.

Meyer, M.T., Bumgarner, J.E., Thurman, E.M., Hostetler, K.A., and Daughtridge, J.V., 1999, A radioimmunoassay method to screen for antibiotics in liquid waste at confined livestock operations, with confirmation by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, in Morganwalp, D.W., and Buxton, H.T., eds., U.S. Geological Survey Toxic Substances Hydrology Program--Proceedings of the Technical Meeting, Charleston, South Carolina, March 8-12, 1999--Volume 2 of 3--Contamination of Hydrologic Systems and Related Ecosystems: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4018B, p. 465-470.

Meyer, M.T., Bumgarner, J.E., Varns, J.L., Daughtridge, J.V., Thurman, E.M., and Hostetler, K.A., 2000, Use of radioimmunoassay as a screen for antibiotics in confined animal feeding operations and confirmation by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry: The Science of the Total Environment, v. 248, no. 2-3, p. 181-187, doi:10.1016/S0048-9697(99)00541-0.

Wilde, F.D., Britton, L.J., Miller, C.V., and Kolpin, D.W., 2000, Effects of animal feeding operations on water resources and the environment--Proceedings of the technical meeting, Fort Collins, Colorado, August 30-September 1, 1999: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 00-204, 107 p.

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