State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2007ND145B
Title: Farm-scale reconnaissance of estrogens in subsurface waters
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2007
End Date: 2/29/2008
Congressional District: 1
Focus Categories: Water Quality, Groundwater, Agriculture
Keywords: Estrogens, Groundwater, Water quality, Endocrine disrupting chemicals, Animal Wastes, Biosolids
Principal Investigator: Casey, Francis Xavier McKeon
Federal Funds: $ 9,600
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 19,200
Abstract: Estrogens are potent endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that are released to the environment by humans and animals either directly or indirectly via their excreta. Estrogens are often found at elevated concentrations in areas of intensive agricultural production, where manure applied as fertilizer to agricultural fields serves as a source of environmental unloading of such hormones. 17ß-estradiol, "the most potent steroidal estrogen hormone," is produced endogenously by all mammalian species and is responsible for the development of female sex characteristics. While its main metabolites, estriol and estrone, are less potent, they are the most ubiquitous of detected estrogens. Estrogens introduced to the environment through large amounts of animal wastes and biosolids may contaminate water by runoff into nearby water bodies or percolation through the soil into ground water. A number of recent studies have revealed movement of 17ß-estradiol from manured land into surface and ground water in concentrations that could affect wildlife. Runoff concentrations between 20 and 2330 ng/L and soil concentrations as high as 675 ng/kg have been reported after poultry litter application. Due to the intensification of livestock and crop production near urban areas and the lack of knowledge concerning environmental exposure to hormones attributed to such practices, a better understanding of the fate and transport of estrogens and quantitative measurements of estrogens introduced into the environment from animal operations is an important problem of local, regional, and broader concern. This study will investigate the background levels of 17ß-estradiol in the lagoon material the farmer injects in the field, the effect of high water-table conditions in which 17ß-estradiol persists; and if the shallow ground water that contains the 17ß-estradiol is transporting exogenous hormones into the lysimeters in the soil horizon. Results of the study will help elucidate the role of abiotic and microbial processes as well as the effect of soil type and hormone concentration. Results should also enable us to determine whether EDCs are a product of long-term chronic low-level deposition, or large short-term events.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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