A strategy to determine the fate of active chemical compounds in soil; applied to antimicrobially active substances

Bjorn J.A. Berendsen*, Gregg Roelofs, Benjamin van Zanten, Wilma D.M. Driessen-van Lankveld, Mariël G. Pikkemaat, Irma E.A. Bongers, Erik de Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Data on the fate of chemical substances in the environment after e.g. manure application is mandatory input for risk assessment in perspective of a more circular biobased economy. Such fate studies include a persistence study to determine a half-life value and a mobility study. It is recognized that not only the native substance should be considered, but that also degradation products should be included that might exert a similar effect as the native substance. We report a tiered fate study strategy that starts with a persistence study. For non-persistent substances a study is performed to determine if degradation products have a similar effect as the native compound. If so, a procedure using high resolution mass spectrometry is suggested to identify the potentially active degradation products. Based on the outcomes, substances are divided into three categories: (I) persistent, (II) degradable to inactive products or (III) degradable to active products. Even though the priority is with category I and III, for all substances and possible degradation products a mobility study is proposed. The fate strategy is successfully applied to ten antimicrobially active substances originating from the tetracyclines, sulfonamides, diaminopyrimidines, fluoroquinolones, macrolides and lincosamides. The fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines and trimethoprim were relatively persistent. The sulfonamides, macrolides and lincomycin (the latter also depending on soil type) degraded relatively quickly. Tylosin A proved to degrade to antimicrobially active degradation products which were tentitatively identified as tylosin C, tylosin A acid, tylosin B acid and tylosin C acid.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130495
Early online date7 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Antibiotics
  • Contaminants
  • Fate study
  • Mobility
  • Persistence
  • Risk assessment
  • Soil


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