The influence of mineral solubility and soil solution concentration on the toxicity of copper to Eisenia fetida Savigny

R E Arnold, M E Hodson, S Black, N A Davies

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The OECD 14 d earthworm acute toxicity test was used to determine the toxicity of copper added as copper nitrate (Cu(NO3)(2)), copper sulphate (CuSO4) and malachite (Cu-2(OH)(2)(CO3)) to Eisenia fetida Savigny. Cu(NO3)(2), and CuSO4 were applied in both an aqueous (aq) and solid (s) form, Cu-2(OH)(2)(CO3) was added as a solid. Soil solution was extracted by centrifugation, and analysed for copper. Two extractants [0.01 M CaCl2 and 0.005 M diethylenetriminpentaacetic acid (DTPA)] were used as a proxy of the bioavailable copper fraction in the soil. For bulk soil copper content the calculated copper toxicity decreased in the order nitrate > sulphide > carbonate, the same order as decreasing solubility of the metal compounds. For Cu(NO3)(2) and CuSO4, the LC50s obtained were not significantly different when the compound was added in solution or solid form. There was a significant correlation between the soil solution copper concentration and the percentage earthworm mortality for all 3 copper compounds (P less than or equal to 0.05) indicating that the soil pore water copper concentration is important for determining copper availability and toxicity to E. fetida. In soil avoidance tests the earthworms avoided the soils treated with Cu(NO3)(2) (aq and s) and CuSO4 (aq and s), at all concentrations used (110-8750 mug Cu g(-1), and 600-8750 mug Cu g(-1) respectively). In soils treated with Cu-2(OH2)CO3, avoidance behaviour was exhibited at all concentrations greater than or equal to3500 mug Cu g(-1). There was no significant correlation between the copper extracted by either CaCl2 or DTPA and percentage mortality. These two extractants are therefore not useful indicators of copper availability and toxicity to E. fetida.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-632
Number of pages11
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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