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Stability of pentobarbital in soil Part B Pesticides, food contaminants, and agricultural wastes

Bagsby, Chasity, Saha, Anita, Goodin, Granville, Siddiqi, Sheeba, Farone, Mary, Farone, Anthony, Kline, Paul C.
Journal of environmental science and health 2018 v.53 no.3 pp. 207-213
autoclaving, groundwater, horses, intravenous injection, liquid chromatography, methanol, pentobarbital, potting mix, sand, soil types, tissues, topsoil
Intravenous injection of barbiturates, particularly pentobarbital (5-ethyl-5-pentan-2-yl-1,3-diazinane-2,4,5-trione), is a widely used method to euthanize large animals such as horses. However, one concern with this method is the fate of pentobarbital after the disposal of the carcass. As tissues decompose, pentobarbital may leach into the soil and from there migrate to groundwater. A method using methanol extraction, solid phase concentration, and liquid chromatography (LC/MS) has been developed to measure pentobarbital in soils. Recovery of pentobarbital from soil averaged approximately 85% from different soil types including topsoil, potting soil, sand, stall sweepings, and loam. The method was capable of detecting pentobarbital levels of 0.1 ppm. A calibration curve was constructed with a linear range of 1 ppm to 100 ppm. The limit of quantification was 0.5 ppm. The rate of degradation of pentobarbital in sand, topsoil, and potting soil was measured over a 17-week period. At the end of week 17, approximately 17% of the pentobarbital remained in the sand, 19% remained in the topsoil, and 10% remained in the potting soil. While there was a significant decrease in the pentobarbital recovered from the soil, there were still detectable amounts of pentobarbital present in the soil after 17 weeks. To determine the importance of bacterial degradation, the three soil types were autoclaved before addition of pentobarbital. After autoclaving, no degradation of pentobarbital was observed in sand and one topsoil sample, while there was no difference in the degradation of pentobarbital in autoclaved potting soil versus potting soil that had not undergone autoclaving.