When steroid hormones are emitted into the environment, they may have harmful effects on the reproduction system of aquatic life. Until now, research has primarily focused on human excretion, demonstrating that steroid hormones reach the aquatic environment due to insufficient removal in waste water treatment processes. However more recently, it has been revealed that agricultural practices also may add to the environmental burden of steroid hormones. So far, research activities have mainly focused on steroid estrogens, but also androgens, progestagens and glucocorticoids, expressed in the vertebrate steroidogenesis, may occur at substantial levels in animal manure and should be addressed. In agricultural practices the animal manure can be applied to the soil as raw manure, but also as a solid or liquid manure fraction, since current livestock production facilities utilizes a recently developed technology, which separates raw animal manure into a solid and a liquid fraction. This technology offers an improved handling and refined distribution of the manure nutrients to the farmlands and the possibility to reduce the environmental impact of manure nutrients, especially avoiding the surplus load of phosphorous. In the present work we investigated the distribution of 9 steroid hormones (pregnenolone, progesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, androstenedione, testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, estrone, 17α-estradiol and 17β-estradiol) in raw manure and manure separates from 10 to 15 different pig farms in Denmark utilizing 4 different separation technologies. Furthermore, we investigated a possible relationship between the steroid hormone concentration and the different manure fractions and separation technologies. The chemical steroid hormone analysis was done by inverse and integrated clean-up pressurized liquid extraction, and further cleaned by a two step solid-phase extraction before derivatization and finally analyzed by GC-MS/MS. It was found that the steroid hormones were predominant in the solid manure separate calling for manure management strategies to reduce the content of steroid hormones in separated manure solid fraction. This could potentially be achieved through composting or anaerobic digestion for biogas production of the solid fraction; however, the effects of these technologies on steroid hormones need to be verified.
Environmental Science and Technology Letters, 2015, Vol 2, Issue 4, p. 133-37