Veterinary antibiotics are widely used worldwide to treat and prevent infectious diseases, as well as (in countries where allowed) to promote growth and improve feeding efficiency of food-producing animals in livestock activities. Among the different antibiotic classes, tetracyclines and sulfonamides are two of the most used for veterinary proposals. Due to the fact that these compounds are poorly absorbed in the gut of animals, a significant proportion (up to ~90%) of them are excreted unchanged, thus reaching the environment mainly through the application of manures and slurries as fertilizers in agricultural fields. Once in the soil, antibiotics are subjected to a series of physicochemical and biological processes, which depend both on the antibiotic nature and soil characteristics. Adsorption/desorption to soil particles and degradation are the main processes that will affect the persistence, bioavailability, and environmental fate of these pollutants, thus determining their potential impacts and risks on human and ecological health. Taking all this into account, a literature review was conducted in order to shed light on the current knowledge about the occurrence of tetracycline and sulfonamide antibiotics in manures/slurries and agricultural soils, as well as on their fate in the environment. For that, the adsorption/desorption and the degradation (both abiotic and biotic) processes of these pollutants in soils were deeply discussed. Finally, the potential risks of deleterious effects on human and ecological health associated with the presence of these antibiotic residues were assessed. This review contributes to a deeper understanding of the lifecycle of tetracycline and sulfonamide antibiotics in the environment, thus facilitating decision-making for the application of preventive and mitigation measures to reduce its negative impacts and risks to public health.
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