Occurrence and fate of androgens, progestogens and glucocorticoids in two swine farms with integrated wastewater treatment systems


Steroid hormones are endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can cause adverse effects even at trace levels. The information about steroid hormones in animal wastes is still very limited. Here we investigated the occurrence and fate of fourteen androgens, twenty-one progestogens, and five glucocorticoids in Farm Luo Cheng (LC) and Farm Shui Tai (ST) with integrated wastewater treatment systems (WTSs) in South China. These two integrated systems have four stages: primary treatment (primary sedimentation tank), secondary biological treatment (biogas digester and up-flow anaerobic sludge reaction bed (UASB)), third-stage disinfection process, and fourth-stage dilution and further biodegradation process (oxidation fish ponds/lagoons). A total of 31 target steroid hormones were detected in the wastewater of the two swine farms, with concentrations ranging from 0.12 ng/L (medroxyprogesterone acetate, MPA) to 11,200 ng/L (5α-dihydroprogesterone, 5α-DHP). A total of 22 target steroid hormones were detected in feces, of which 19 were detected in Farm LC and 17 in Farm ST. Some of these detected steroids were synthetic chemicals, which might be parent chemicals from exogenous addition or their metabolites, or transformation products from other natural steroids. The steroids excretion of sows in swine farms were estimated, with some steroids such as androstenedione (AED, 41.5 μg/d), epiandrosterone (EADR, 268 μg/d), progesterone (P, 661 μg/d), and 5α-DHP (982μg/d) having much higher values than those from human bodies. Both WTSs in the swine farms could effectively remove the target steroid hormones, with the removal rates of most targets exceeding 90%. In comparison, the anaerobic digester-A2/O (anaerobic-anoxic-oxic)-lagoon system performed better in removing steroids than the up-flow anaerobic sludge reaction bed (UASB)-two-stage series (A/O)2-oxidation fish ponds system. However, there were still 22 steroid hormones, including 14 synthetic ones detected in the effluent, with the risk quotients of most synthetic steroids exceeding 1, showing high risks to aquatic organisms. The findings from this study showed that there is a wide presence of steroid hormones, especially some synthetic steroids in animal wastes, posing potential ecological risks, and these steroids should be removed before discharge to the environment.

Authors: Jin-Na Zhang, Jun Chen, Lei Yang, Min Zhang, Li Yao, You-Sheng Liu, Jian-Liang Zhao, Bing Zhang, Guang-Guo Ying
; Full Source: Water research 2021 Jan 14;192:116836. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2021.116836.