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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Investigations - Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment

Antibiotics in Spring Flush

Recent studies have documented that antibiotics are present in streams of the United States. Several of the antibiotics found are those used in livestock production; however, the primary transport mechanisms of antibiotics to streams are not yet understood. Samples were collected during runoff in Midwestern streams to identify the dominant source of antibiotics in streams. If point sources such as sewage treatment discharges are the dominant source, then concentrations should be much lower during runoff than during lower flow conditions. However, if nonpoint sources (such as manure applications to fields) are dominant, then concentrations should be about the same or higher during runoff (May-June, June-July, and September-November). During 2002, 154 samples were collected from 51 streams in nine Midwestern States during three periods of runoff. Sulfamethoxazole was detected at a concentration of 0.14 µg/L in a sample from the Scioto River near Prospect, Ohio, and at a concentration of 0.10 µg/L in a sample from the Rock River at Afton, Wisconsin.

Sampling stations in Midwestern United StatesRelated Science Feature Articles

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  • Project contact: Bill Battaglin


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