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Feedlot WastewaterTwo types of wastewater treatment systems have a tremendous impact upon water quality, human health, and the environment. Publicly owned waste water treatment plants treat human waste. Animal feedlot treatment systems treat waste from dairies, cattle and hog feedlots and chicken processing plants. Both types of water treatment plants allow organic chemicals and nutrients to pass through. Until now, such chemicals have been largely ignored as environmental contaminants. Nationally, feedlots that hold animals in close quarters are a leading source of pollution. Anabolic steroids are given to cattle in feedlots to stimulate growth, and study results indicate that significant amounts are in runoff from the feedlots. Spills and leakage from the manure lagoons of factory farms can cause fish kills, red tides, and threats to waterways used for recreation and drinking. A huge area in the Gulf of Mexico described as a dead zone devoid of biological life is attributed massive amounts of nutrients entering the gulf from animal feedlots. In 1995, nearly 30 million gallons of manure and urine killed at least 200,000 fish in 13 separate spills in the US. Female fathead minnows down stream of cattle feedlots have been found with male characteristics and male fish have been found with abnormally small testes indicating that they have been affected by hormones in the environment. (Gillette, L. Environmental Science and Technology, University of Florida May 1 2002). The Clean Water Network, the Izaak Walton League and Natural Resource Defense Council are pressing the Environmental Protection Agency to adequately regulate wastewater treatment from these sources. For additional information visit the following link http://www.cwn.org/docs/programs/feedlots/feedlots.htm.

Cattle FeedlotA study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey is one of the first to look at pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other organic wastewater contaminants on a national basis. Measurements of 95 organic wastewater contaminants from 139 streams in 30 states detected a wide range of compounds. The most frequently detected chemicals were fecal steroids, insect repellents, caffeine, antimicrobial disinfectants, fire retardants, veterinary pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, reproductive hormones, testosterone, pesticides, plasticizers, plant and animal steroids, and endocrine disrupters (Kolpin, D. et al., 2002, Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Contaminants in U.S. Streams 1999-2000: A National Reconnaissance. Environmental Science and Technology, 36(6). 1202-1211). The impact of many of these compounds upon the environment is little understood; however, hormone effects upon birds, fish and other wildlife is likely and many antibiotics' sudden failure to cure human diseases is a serious problem that may be caused because bacteria is developing immunity in the environment. To learn more about the U.S. Geological Survey's research on ground and surface waters visit http://toxics.usgs.gov/regional/emc_groundwater.html or http://toxics.usgs.gov/regional/emc_surfacewater.html.

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