In this study, the distribution of steroid hormones, phytoestrogens, and estrogenic activity was thoroughly characterized within the anaerobic waste lagoon of a typical commercial swine sow operation. Three independent rounds of sampling were conducted in June 2009, April 2010, and February 2011. Thirty-seven analytes in lagoon slurry and sludge were assessed using LC/MS-MS, and yeast estrogen screen was used to determine estrogenic activity. Of the hormone analytes, steroidal estrogens were more abundant than androgens or progesterone, with estrone being the predominant estrogen species. Conjugated hormones were detected only at low levels. The isoflavone metabolite equol was by far the predominant phytoestrogen species, with daidzein, genistein, formononetin, and coumestrol present at lower levels. Phytoestrogens were often more abundant than steroidal estrogens, but contributed minimally towards total estrogenic activity. Analytes were significantly elevated in the solid phases of the lagoon; although low observed log KOC values suggest enhanced solubility in the aqueous phase, perhaps due to dissolved or colloidal organic carbon. The association with the solid phase, as well as recalcitrance of analytes to anaerobic degradation, results in a markedly elevated load of analytes and estrogenic activity within lagoon sludge. Overall, findings emphasize the importance of adsorption and transformation processes in governing the fate of these compounds in lagoon waste, which is ultimately used for broadcast application as a fertilizer.
Additional publication details
Comprehensive assessment of hormones, phytoestrogens, and estrogenic activity in an anaerobic swine waste lagoon