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Comparison of biological and chemical measures of metal bioavailability in field soils: Test of a novel simulated earthworm gut extraction

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2010.07.012
  • Bioavailability
  • Metals
  • Ecological Risk Assessment
  • Ecotoxicity
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Biology
  • Ecology


Abstract Bioavailability of metals in soil is a major factor influencing estimates of risk associated with exposure of ecological receptors. Metal concentrations in soil are often compared to ecological screening benchmarks, which are based on total concentrations in soil. Often, the total concentration is not correlated with toxicity. No standardised method exists for determining the bioavailability of metals in soil to ecological receptors. Several surrogate measures of bioavailability were compared to the results of a battery of toxicity tests using copper (Cu), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn)-contaminated soils collected from a former industrial area. A calcium chloride (CaCl 2) extraction, cyclodextrin (HPCD) extraction, simulated earthworm gut (SEG) test, and earthworm bioaccumulation test were performed using the soils. Extractable metals using the CaCl 2 solution were not correlated with any biological responses of earthworms ( Eisenia andrei), collembola ( Folsomia candida), northern wheatgrass ( Elymus lanceolatus), or alfalfa ( Medicago sativa L.). Concentrations of metals in the HPCD extracts were highly variable and were not adequate for revealing adverse effects. E. andrei tissue concentrations were variable but were predictive of adverse effects to invertebrates. The results of the SEG test correlated with most of the biological endpoints. Bioavailable Cu was correlated with adverse effects to invertebrates and plants using the SEG test. Overall, coefficients of determination associated with the relationships between the biological responses and each measure of bioavailability indicated that those for the SEG test were greater than those for the other surrogate measures of bioavailability. Further validation is required before this test is routinely used to estimate metal bioavailability and toxicity.

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