[Pharmwaste] University of Georgia Receives EPA Grant to Study Pollution from Hormones in Chicken Waste

DeBiasi,Deborah dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
Tue May 29 11:48:15 EDT 2007

Release date: 05/16/2007 

Contact Information: Laura Niles, (404) 562-8353, niles.laura at epa.gov

(ATLANTA - MAY 16, 2007) The University of Georgia (UGA) received an EPA
grant totaling $695,620 today to study the environmental fate and
transport of hormones in broiler chicken litter. 

Broilers are chickens less than 13 weeks old, constituting virtually all
commercially produced chickens, and their litter is a mixture of manure,
feathers, feed, water and bedding. Broilers produce natural hormones,
including higher amounts of estradiol and testosterone than other
animals, which become concentrated in litter. Litter is often recycled
as compost, fertilizer, cattle feed and even biofuel, and the hormones
can seep into ground and surface water and soil.

Nationally, many broilers are raised in concentrated animal feeding
operations (CAFOs). These are facilities where animals are confined and
fed for 45 or more days per year that also exceed a size threshold (for
broilers, where over 125,000 are raised), exhibit certain water
discharge characteristics or are designated by a regulatory official as
contributing significantly to surface water pollution. Due to the volume
of waste generated, CAFOs pose risks to the environment and public
health. Besides hormones, litter contains nutrients and pathogens that
must be controlled to avoid contaminating soil and water sources.

"Preventing and managing pollution from large-scale animal feeding
operations is a major priority for EPA, especially in the Southeast,"
said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. "The results
from this study will help us better protect ground and surface waters
from contamination associated with hormones in waste from concentrated
animal feeding operations."

Through the project, UGA researchers will first determine the
concentration of hormones in different classes of litter. Fertilizer is
produced from litter using a method known as "deep stacking," where
several feet of litter is stacked for weeks until the action of bacteria
raises the temperature and kills any pathogens. UGA will determine
whether deep stacking changes the concentration of hormones in litter.
Researchers will also investigate the transport, runoff and
decomposition of hormones in litter applied as fertilizer.

"This project will allow us to identify the concentration of hormones
among different broiler litter types, which vary depending on the
broiler growth period and the type of bedding material used (i.e.,
sawdust, pine shavings, rice or peanut hulls, crushed corn cobs, sand,
etc.), among other things," said Dr. Miguel Cabrera, the principal UGA
investigator. "The study will better focus our research efforts to
reduce hormone concentrations and will also help identify management
practices for broiler litter."

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report on broiler
production and value published in April, Georgia produced 1.4 billion
broilers-more than any other state-valued at $2.7 billion in 2006.
Georgia produces roughly 15 percent of the country's broilers annually. 

Two departments within UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental
Sciences and their Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratory
will sample broiler litter and stack houses and perform hormone
analysis. Field studies will be carried out by the Department of Crop
and Soil Sciences. Rainfall simulation studies to evaluate surface
runoff from grasslands fertilized with broiler litter will be carried
out in collaboration with USDA's Agricultural Research Service in
Watkinsville, Ga. 

The EPA funded this project as part of its Science to Achieve Results
program. The results of this research will improve estimates of the
occurrence and risks of steroid hormones associated with animal waste.
Further the research is expected to help in the development of new or
improved animal waste handling systems and risk management options for
steroid hormones in animal waste.

To read the full text of the grant opportunity through which this
project was funded, go to
http://es.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2006/2006_star_cafos.html. For more general
information about environmental impacts from concentrated animal feed
operations (CAFOs) and associated guidelines, visit

Deborah L. DeBiasi
Email:   dldebiasi at deq.virginia.gov
WEB site address:  www.deq.virginia.gov
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Office of Water Permit Programs
Industrial Pretreatment/Toxics Management Program
Mail:          P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA  23218 (NEW!)
Location:  629 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA  23219
PH:         804-698-4028
FAX:      804-698-4032

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