Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 36, pp 35835–35844 | Cite as

Removal of tetracyclines, sulfonamides, and quinolones by industrial-scale composting and anaerobic digestion processes

  • Hang Liu
  • Chengjun Pu
  • Xiaolu Yu
  • Ying SunEmail author
  • Junhao Chen
Sustainable Waste Management


This study evaluated and compared the removal of antibiotics by industrial-scale composting and anaerobic digestion at different seasons. Twenty compounds belonged to three classes of widely used veterinary antibiotics (i.e., tetracyclines, sulfonamides, and quinolones) were investigated. Results show that of the three groups of antibiotics, tetracyclines were dominant in swine feces and poorly removed by anaerobic digestion with significant accumulation in biosolids, particularly in winter. Compared to that in winter, a much more effective removal (> 97%) by anaerobic digestion was observed for sulfonamides in summer. By contrast, quinolones were the least abundant antibiotics in swine feces and exhibited a higher removal by anaerobic digestion in winter than in summer. The overall removal of antibiotics by aerobic composting could be more than 90% in either winter or summer. Nevertheless, compost products from livestock farms in Beijing contained much higher antibiotics than commercial organic fertilizers. Thus, industrial composting standards should be strictly applied to livestock farms to further remove antibiotics and produce high quality organic fertilizer.


Antibiotics Removal rate Aerobic composting Anaerobic digestion 



This work was supported in part by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0501404) and the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Project (No. Z151100001115008).

Supplementary material

11356_2018_1487_MOESM1_ESM.docx (129 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 129 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hang Liu
    • 1
  • Chengjun Pu
    • 1
  • Xiaolu Yu
    • 1
  • Ying Sun
    • 1
    Email author
  • Junhao Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Beijing Key Laboratory of Farmland Soil Pollution Prevention and Remediation, College of Resources and Environmental ScienceChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina

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