Sorption-desorption equilibrium and diffusion of tetracycline in poultry litter and municipal biosolids soil amendments

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10 Scopus citations


Tetracycline (TET) is commonly used to treat bacterial diseases in humans and chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus), is largely excreted, and is found at elevated concentrations in treated sewage sludge (biosolids) and poultry litter (excrement plus bedding materials). Routine application of these nutrient-and carbon-enriched materials to soils improves fertility and other characteristics, but the presence of antibiotics (and other pharmaceuticals) in amendments raises questions about potential adverse effects on biota and development of antibiotic resistance in the environment. Hazard risks are largely dictated by sorption-desorption and diffusion behavior in amendments, so these processes were evaluated from sorption-desorption equilibrium isotherm and diffusion cell experiments with four types amendments (biosolids, poultry manure, wood chip litter, and rice hull litter) at three temperatures (8 °C, 20 °C and 32 °C). Linear sorption-desorption equilibrium distribution constants (Kd) in native amendments ranged between 124–2418 L kg−1. TET sorption was significantly increased after treatment with alum, and there was a strong exponential relationship between Kd and the concentration of bound Al3+ in amendments (R2 = 0.94), which indicated that amendments contained functional groups capable of chelating Al3+ and forming metal bridges with TET. Effective diffusion coefficients of TET in amendments ranged between 0.1 and 5.2 × 10−6 cm2 s−1, which were positively related to temperature and inversely related to Kd by a multiple regression model (R2 = 0.86). Treatment of organic amendments with alum greatly increased Kd, would decrease Ds, and so would greatly reduce hazard risks of applying these organic amendments with this antibiotic to soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-501
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I would like to express appreciation for research support from the Hatch Multistate Research Fund ( MRF ) provided by National Institute of Food and Agriculture for project W3170 -Beneficial Reuse of Residuals and Reclaimed Water: Impact on Soil Ecosystem and Human Health. I would also like to acknowledge Dr. D. Starnes for assistance with sample collection and analysis, and Drs. T. Pescatore, M. Ford, and Edwin Ritchey for providing poultry manure and litter used in this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Alum
  • Effective diffusion coefficient
  • Metal-bridging
  • Sorption-desorption partition constant
  • Thermodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry (all)
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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