Environmental Pollution

Volume 231, Part 1, December 2017, Pages 829-836
Environmental Pollution

Transfer of antibiotics from wastewater or animal manure to soil and edible crops


The transfer of antibiotics from wastewater or manure to soil and crops was evaluated.

TC, NOR and CAP preferred to accumulate in the leaves/shoots or fruit of crops.

Antibiotic-contaminated wastewater poses higher risks than manure application.

The higher the antibiotic concentrations, the higher the risk posed to crops and humans.

Antibiotics ingested under different treatments were much lower than the ADI levels.


Antibiotics are added to agricultural fields worldwide through wastewater irrigation or manure application, resulting in antibiotic contamination and elevated environmental risks to terrestrial environments and humans. Most studies focused on antibiotic detection in different matrices or were conducted in a hydroponic environment. Little is known about the transfer of antibiotics from antibiotic-contaminated irrigation wastewater and animal manure to agricultural soil and edible crops. In this study, we evaluated the transfer of five different antibiotics (tetracycline, sulfamethazine, norfloxacin, erythromycin, and chloramphenicol) to different crops under two levels of antibiotic-contaminated wastewater irrigation and animal manure fertilization. The final distribution of tetracycline (TC), norfloxacin (NOR) and chloramphenicol (CAP) in the crop tissues under these four treatments were as follows: fruit > leaf/shoot > root, while an opposite order was found for sulfamethazine (SMZ) and erythromycin (ERY): root > leaf/shoot > fruit. The growth of crops could accelerate the dissipation of antibiotics by absorption from contaminated soil. A higher accumulation of antibiotics was observed in crop tissues under the wastewater treatment than under manure treatment, which was due to the continual irrigation that increased adsorption in soil and uptake by crops. The translocation of antibiotics in crops mainly depended on their physicochemical properties (e.g. log Kow), crop species, and the concentrations of antibiotics applied to the soil. The levels of antibiotics ingested through the consumption of edible crops under the different treatments were much lower than the acceptable daily intake (ADI) levels.


Wastewater irrigation
Manure fertilization

This paper has been recommended for acceptance by Klaus Kummerer.