Pre-assessment of environmental impact of zinc and copper used in animal nutrition

copper, zinc, feed additives, environmental risk, livestock, aquaculture
First published in EFSA Supporting Publications
29 octobre 2010
26 octobre 2010
External Scientific Report

The present document has been produced and adopted by the bodies identified above as authors. In accordance with Article 36 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, this task has been carried out exclusively by the authors in the context of a grant agreement between the European Food Safety Authority and the authors. The present document is published complying with the transparency principle to which the European Food Safety Authority is subject. It may not be considered as an output adopted by EFSA. EFSA reserves its rights, view and position as regards the issues addressed and the conclusions reached in the present document, without prejudice to the rights of the authors.


Copper and zinc are routinely used as additives in feed for livestock and aquaculture farming. During their use as feed additives, it is inevitable that Cu and Zn will be released to the environment. This project therefore assessed the environmental impact of Cu and Zn arising from use as additives in feed for livestock and aquaculture animals.

The environmental risks of Cu and Zn arising from aquaculture were assessed using simple exposure models recommended by EFSA. Predicted concentrations were below predicted no effect concentrations (PNEC), indicating that the use of both metals in feed additives for fish poses an acceptable risk to the environment where these types of facility exist.

A more complex modelling approach was used for assessing the risks of inputs of Cu and Zn from livestock treatments using the Intermediate Dynamic Model for Metals and soil/agriculture and water chemistry scenarios relevant for a range of European Member States. Overall, the livestock evaluations indicated that environmental risks for Cu and Zn are acceptable at the current time but in the future risks could occur in some systems. The systems most vulnerable to metal input in manure were acid sandy soils. The distribution of these scenarios within Europe is largely in Flanders, the Netherlands, northwestern Germany and Denmark. There is a clear need to better establish whether such soils are as sensitive to metal inputs as is predicted here. Since problems of high metal concentrations in drainflow and runoff, once established, would be difficult to remediate, it is important to proactively assess soil sensitivity before setting policy on manure application.

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