Does Uptake of Pharmaceuticals Vary Across Earthworm Species?

Laura J. Carter*, Jim J. Ryan, Alistair B A Boxall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study compared the uptake and depuration of four commonly used pharmaceuticals (carbamazepine, diclofenac, fluoxetine and orlistat) in two earthworm species (Lumbricus terrestris and Eisenia fetida). L. terrestris are a larger species and often found in deep burrows whereas E. fetida prefer to reside near the soil surface. Species burrowing habits and sizes may alter uptake by earthworms. All four pharmaceuticals were taken up into both L. terrestris and E. fetida tissue after 21 days exposure to spiked soil. Bioconcentration factors (BCFs) ranged between 1.72 and 29.83 for L. terrestris and 1.14 and 63.03 for E. fetida. For carbamazepine and diclofenac, BCFs were similar whereas for fluoxetine and orlistat, BCFs in E. fetida were more than double those seen in L. terrestris. Results indicate that uptake into earthworms cannot be generalised between species and that the influence of species traits can vary depending on the nature of the study chemical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-322
Number of pages7
JournalBulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
Issue number3
Early online date21 Jul 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2016. Uploaded with permission of the publisher/copyright holder. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • Eisenia fetida
  • Lumbricus terrestris
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Species traits
  • Uptake

Cite this