The potential presence of steroid hormones in runoff from sites where biosolids have been used as agricultural fertilizers is an environmental concern. A study was conducted to assess the potential for runoff of seventeen different hormones and two sterols, including androgens, estrogens, and progestogens from agricultural test plots. The field containing the test plots had been applied with biosolids for the first time immediately prior to this study. Target compounds were isolated by solid-phase extraction (water samples) and pressurized solvent extraction (solid samples), derivatized, and analyzed by gas chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry. Runoff samples collected prior to biosolids application had low concentrations of two hormones (estrone <0.8 to 2.23 ng L-1 and androstenedione <0.8 to 1.54 ng L-1) and cholesterol (22.5 ± 3.8 μg L-1). In contrast, significantly higher concentrations of multiple estrogens (<0.8 to 25.0 ng L-1), androgens (<2 to 216 ng L-1), and progesterone (<8 to 98.9 ng L-1) were observed in runoff samples taken 1, 8, and 35 days after biosolids application. A significant positive correlation was observed between antecedent rainfall amount and hormone mass loads (runoff). Hormones in runoff were primarily present in the dissolved phase (<0.7-μm GF filter), and, to a lesser extent bound to the suspended-particle phase. Overall, these results indicate that rainfall can mobilize hormones from biosolids-amended agricultural fields, directly to surface waters or redistributed to terrestrial sites away from the point of application via runoff. Although concentrations decrease over time, 35 days is insufficient for complete degradation of hormones in soil at this site.
Additional publication details
Steroid hormone runoff from agricultural test plots applied with municipal biosolids
Environmental Science and Technology
Branch of Analytical Serv (National Water Quality Laboratory)