Occurrence of sulfonamide antimicrobials in private water wells in Washington County, Idaho, USA

Angela L. Batt, Daniel D. Snow, Diana S. Aga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

276 Scopus citations


Samples from six private wells formerly used as sources for drinking water by the residents of Washington County (Weiser, Idaho) were collected to assess the impact of a nearby confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) on the quality of the local groundwater. All six samples were found contaminated by two veterinary antimicrobials, sulfamethazine (at concentrations from 0.076 to 0.22 μg/l) and sulfadimethoxine (at concentrations from 0.046 to 0.068 μg/l). These groundwater samples also contained elevated concentrations of nitrate and ammonium. Three of the sampled wells have nitrate levels that exceeded the maximum contaminant level set by the US Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water, with nitrate concentration as high as 39.1 mg/l. All but one well showed nitrate, which instead contained ammonium at 1.22 mg/l. Analysis of the nitrate and ammonium in these samples by isotopic ratio mass spectrometry indicated δ15N characteristic of an animal or human waste source. Results from this study underscore the role of CAFO as an important source of antibiotic contamination of groundwater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1963-1971
Number of pages9
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Antibiotics
  • CAFO
  • Groundwater
  • LC/MS/MS
  • Nitrate
  • Nitrogen isotope analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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