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Keywords:

  • Bioavailability;
  • Metal;
  • Metalloid;
  • Soil Remediation

ABSTRACT

Soil contaminant concentration limits for the protection of terrestrial plants and soil invertebrates are commonly based on thresholds derived using data from laboratory ecotoxicity tests. A comprehensive assessment has been made for the derivation of ecological soil screening levels (Eco-SSL) in the United States; however, these limits are conservative because of their focus on high bioavailability scenarios. Here, we explain and evaluate approaches to soil limit derivation taken by 4 jurisdictions, 2 of which allow for correction of data for factors affecting bioavailability among soils, and between spiked and field-contaminated soils (Registration Evaluation Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals [REACH] Regulation, European Union [EU], and the National Environment Protection Council [NEPC], Australia). Scientifically advanced features from these methods have been integrated into a newly developed method for deriving soil clean-up values (SCVs) within the context of site-specific baseline ecological risk assessment. Resulting site-specific SCVs that account for bioavailability may permit a greater residual concentration in soil when compared to generic screening limit concentrations (e.g., Eco-SSL), while still affording acceptable protection. Two choices for selecting the level of protection are compared (i.e., allowing higher effect levels per species, or allowing a higher percentile of species that are potentially unprotected). Implementation of this new method is presented for the jurisdiction of the United States, with a focus on metal and metalloid contaminants; however, the new method can be used in any jurisdiction. A case study for molybdate shows the large effect of bioavailability corrections and smaller effects of protection level choices when deriving SCVs. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2014;10:346–357. © 2014 The Authors. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of SETAC.