Antibiotic residues in livestock manure: Does the EU risk assessment sufficiently protect against microbial toxicity and selection of resistant bacteria in the environment?

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Antibiotic residues that reach the environment via land application of livestock manure could impact structure and function of microbial communities and promote the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). To assess whether there is a risk, we have reviewed extensive data on five veterinary antibiotics (VAs) that are commonly used in livestock farming (amoxicillin, enrofloxacin, sulfadiazine, tetracycline, trimethoprim). Predicted environmental concentrations (PECs) after the medication of pigs were derived using (i) a total residue approach and (ii) the VetCalc model to account for additional fate parameters and regional scenarios specific to Germany. Predicted no effect concentrations (PNECs) for microbial toxicity and ARB selection were derived from available concentration-response data. Except for enrofloxacin, the total residue PECs exceeded 100 μg kg-1 in soil and risk quotients indicated a high risk for soil porewater and surface water (PEC/PNEC > 1). After PEC refinement, the risk in surface water was generally low. However, in soil porewater still a high risk was indicated for sulfadiazine, tetracycline, and trimethoprim that could persist up to 100 days after the manure application. These findings suggest an urgent need for regulatory action to mitigate the risk resulting from the presence of antibiotic residues in soil.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120807
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 05.11.2019

    Research areas

  • Antimicrobial resistance, Soil, Surface water, VetCalc, Veterinary antibiotic
  • Chemistry