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Effect of soil properties on lead bioavailability and toxicity to earthworms

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  • Presented at the Symposium on Risk Assessment of Metals in Soils, 14th Annual Meeting, SETAC Europe Meeting, Prague, Czech Republic, April 18–22, 2004.

Abstract

Soil properties are important factors modifying metal bioavailability to ecological receptors. Twenty-one soils with a wide range of soil properties (USA; http://soils.usda.gov/technical/classification/taxonomy/) were amended with a single concentration of Pb (2,000 mg/kg) to determine the effects of soil properties on Pb bioavailability and toxicity to earthworms. Earthworm mortality ranged from 0 to 100% acute mortality following exposure to the same total concentration of Pb (2,000 mg/kg) in amended field soils. Internal Pb concentrations in earthworms ranged from 28.7 to 782 mg/kg, with a mean of 271 mg/kg. Path analysis was used to partition correlations in an attempt to discern the relative contribution of each soil property. Results of path analysis indicated that pH was the most important soil property affecting earthworm mortality (p < 0.01) and internal Pb (p < 0.05). Soil pH was related inversely to mortality and internal Pb, soil solution Pb, and Pb bioavailability. The most important soil property modifying reproduction was amorphous iron and aluminum oxides (FEAL). Because FEAL is rich in pH-dependent cation-exchange sites, several soil properties, including pH, FEAL, and cation-exchange capacity, have a causal effect on Pb adsorption and soluble Pb. Path analysis is useful for assessing contaminated soils with a wide range of soil properties and can assist in ecological risk assessment and remediation decisions for contaminated sites. Soil properties are important factors modifying metal bioavailability and toxicity and should be considered during the ecological risk assessment of metals in contaminated soils.

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