EU scientists investigating levels of chemical substances in cattle slurry and threat to water quality
EU scientists have started investigating how chemical substances migrate from cattle manure to water.
Joint Research Centre (JRC) scientists have developed and tested new methods to investigate the fate of chemical substances, in particular pharmaceuticals as well as other anti-microbial agents, administered to cattle.
"We of course support the principle of the circular economy and the idea of reusing materials. But we want to be sure that when materials are reused, this has no negative consequences on human health or the environment. Our research looks at one way of ensuring this", explains JRC scientist Bernd Gawlik.
The scientists wanted to understand to what extent chemicals such as pharmaceuticals administered to cattle can migrate into our water resources through their manure.
"We treat our wastewater, but manure from animals which is used as such in agriculture, is often not treated at all. To date there is not much knowledge about the risk that chemicals such as pharmaceuticals in the manure could pose to our water resources. We also do not understand the role some of them could play in the development of antimicrobial resistance in the environment", said Bernd.
The researchers analysed samples of manure and soil, as well as samples of groundwater and surface water, for a total of 488 chemicals, from herbicides, fungicides and insecticides to pharmaceuticals, ingredients of personal care products, and other industrially used chemicals.
20 samples of manure, soil and water were taken at the premises of the University for Agriculture in Nitra (Slovakia).
They were then processed and analysed at the JRC using a new analytical approach called "compound fishing".