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Accumulation of chlorinated benzenes in earthworms

June 16, 2010

Chlorinated benzenes are widespread in the environment. Hexachlorobenzene, pentachlorobenzene and all isomers of dichlorobenzenes, trichlorobenzenes, and tetrachlorobenzenes, have been detected in fish, water, and sediments from the Great Lakes. This paper describes a long-term (26 week) experiment relating the concentrations of chlorinated benzenes in earthworms to 1) the length of exposure, and it describes three 8-week experiments relating concentrations of chlorinated benzenes in earthworms to 2) their concentration in soil 3) the soil organic matter content and, 4) the degree of chlorination. In the 26-week experiment, the concentration of 1,2,4 - trichlorobenzene in earthworms fluctuated only slightly about a mean of 0.63 ppm (Fig. 1). Although a statistically significant decrease can be demonstrated over the test (Pearson correlation coefficient, r = -0.62 p < 0.05), the decrease was minor. Hexachlorobenzene in earthworms showed a cyclical trend that coincided with replacement of the media, and a slight but statistically significant tendency to increase from about 2 to 3 ppm over the 26 weeks (r = 0.55, p < 0.05). Concentrations of both trichlorobenzene and hexachlorobenzene in earthworms increased as the concentrations in the soil increased (Fig. 2), but leveled off at the highest soil concentrations. The most surprising result of this study was the relatively low concentrations in earthworms compared to those in soils. The average concentration of each of the six isomers of trichlorobenzene and tetrachlorobenzene in earthworms was only about 1 ppm (Table 2); the isomeric structure did not affect accumulation. The concentration of organic matter in soil had a prominent effect on hexachlorobenzene concentrations in earthworms (Fig. 3). Hexachlorobenzene concentrations decreased steadily from 9.3 ppm in earthworms kept in soil without any peat moss added to about 1 ppm in soil containing 16 or 32% organic matter.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1996
Title Accumulation of chlorinated benzenes in earthworms
Authors W. N. Beyer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Index ID 5223159
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

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