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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances

Investigations - Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Environment


Typical fish hatchery sampled for emerging contaminants
Typical fish hatchery sampled for emerging contaminants

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Research to document the presence of antibiotics in fish hatchery water was conducted in two stages. The first stage was a reconnaissance sampling of 13 hatcheries across the United States. The second stage was repeated sampling of three select fish hatcheries. Results of both studies documented the occurrence and persistence of antibiotics in medicated feed used in fish hatcheries. It was discovered that ormetoprim and sulfadimethoxine persisted in water for longer periods of time than oxytetracycline in fish hatcheries. Oxytetracycline was detected more frequently in the samples of the intensive hatcheries than samples from the extensive hatcheries. Sulfadimethoxine concentrations were greater in the intensive hatcheries than the extensive hatcheries, but persisted up to 40 days after treatment in both types of fish hatcheries. In addition, antibiotics were detected in untreated hatchery raceways, suggesting that recirculating water within a hatchery can lead to unintentional low-level exposure of antibiotics to healthy fish.

Available Publications

Thurman, E.M., Dietze, J.E., and Scribner, E.A., 2002, Occurrence of antibiotics in water from fish hatcheries: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 120-02, 4 p.

More Information

  • Project contact: Julie Dietze

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