Does monensin in chicken manure from poultry farms pose a threat to soil invertebrates?

Chemosphere. 2011 Apr;83(4):517-23. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2010.12.058. Epub 2011 Jan 6.


Monensin is a carboxylic polyether ionophore used in the poultry industry as a coccidiostat. It enters the environment via manure from broiler farms. In spite of its potential presence in the environment, information concerning monensin residues in manure and soil and its toxicity to soil organisms are insufficient. In the present study, two beneficial soil invertebrate species, earthworms (Eisenia andrei) and woodlice (Porcellio scaber), were used to assess the toxicity of monensin. Animals were exposed to a range of monensin concentrations via soil or food. Earthworm reproduction was found to be the most susceptible endpoint (NOEC=3.5 mg kg(-1) dry soil; EC(50)=12.7 mg kg(-1) dry soil), while no adverse effects were recorded in isopods (NOEC⩾849mgkg(-1) dry soil, NOEC⩾357mgkg(-1) dry food). The obtained toxicity data were compared with potential concentrations of monensin in soil. In view of this, manure from broiler chickens treated with monensin at a poultry farm was sampled. According to monensin and nitrogen concentrations in the chicken manure and the degradation time of monensin, the predicted environmental concentration (PEC) was calculated. PEC of monensin is around 0.013 mg kg(-1) soil if manure is used after 3 months of composting and 0.05 mg kg(-1) soil if used without storage. Data for earthworm reproduction was used to estimate the predicted no-effect concentration (PNEC). If fresh chicken manure is applied to terrestrial ecosystems, the risk quotient (PEC/PNEC ratio) is above 1, which indicates that monensin might pose an environmental risk under certain conditions. To prevent this, it is strongly recommended to compost chicken manure for several months before using it as fertiliser.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Chickens / metabolism*
  • Coccidiostats / analysis
  • Coccidiostats / toxicity*
  • Invertebrates / drug effects*
  • Isopoda / drug effects
  • Manure / analysis*
  • Monensin / analysis
  • Monensin / toxicity*
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Oligochaeta / drug effects
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis
  • Soil Pollutants / toxicity*


  • Coccidiostats
  • Manure
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Monensin
  • Nitrogen