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Assessment of trace element accumulation by earthworms in an orchard soil remediation study using soil amendments

December 1, 2016

This study assessed potential bioaccumulation of various trace elements in grasses and earthworms as a consequence of soil incorporation of organic amendments for in situ remediation of an orchard field soil contaminated with organochlorine and Pb pesticide residues. In this experiment, four organic amendments of differing total organic carbon content and quality (two types of composted manure, composted biosolids, and biochar) were added to a contaminated orchard field soil, planted with two types of grasses, and tested for their ability to reduce bioaccumulation of organochlorine pesticides and metals in earthworms. The experiment was carried out in 4-L soil microcosms in a controlled environment for 90 days. After 45 days of orchardgrass or perennial ryegrass growth, Lumbricus terrestris L. were introduced to the microcosms and exposed to the experimental soils for 45 days before the experiment was ended. Total trace element concentrations in the added organic amendments were below recommended safe levels and their phytoavailablity and earthworm availability remained low during a 90-day bioremediation study. At the end of the experiment, total tissue concentrations of Cu, Cd, Mn, Pb, and Zn in earthworms and grasses were below recommended safe levels. Total concentrations of Pb in test soil were similar to maximum background levels of Pb recorded in soils in the Eastern USA (100 mg kg−1 d.w.) because of previous application of orchard pesticides. Addition of aged dairy manure compost and presence of grasses was effective in reducing the accumulation of soil-derived Pb in earthworms, thus reducing the risk of soil Pb entry into wildlife food chains.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Assessment of trace element accumulation by earthworms in an orchard soil remediation study using soil amendments
DOI 10.1007/s11270-016-3055-0
Authors Tiziana Centofantia, Rufus L. Chaney, W. Nelson Beyer, Laura L. McConnell, A. P. Davis, Dana Jackson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Water, Air, & Soil Pollution
Series Number
Index ID 70176062
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

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