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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Combining a Standardized Batch Test with the Biotic Ligand Model to Predict Copper and Zinc Ecotoxicity in Soils

Tiberg, Charlotta; Smolders, Erik; Froberg, Mats; Gustafsson, Jon Petter; Kleja, Dan Berggren;


Extraction of soil samples with dilute CaCl2 solution in a routinely performed batch test has potential to be used in site-specific assessment of ecotoxicological risks at metal-contaminated sites. Soil extracts could potentially give a measure of the concentration of bioavailable metals in the soil solution, thereby including effects of soil properties and contaminant "aging." We explored the possibility of using a 0.001 M CaCl2 batch test combined with biotic ligand models (BLMs) for assessment of ecotoxicity in soils. Concentrations of Cu2+ and Zn2+ in soil extracts were linked to responses in ecotoxicity tests (microbial processes, plants, and invertebrates) previously performed on metal-spiked soils. The batch test data for soils were obtained by spiking archived soil materials using the same protocol as in the original studies. Effective concentration values based on free metal concentrations in soil extracts were related to pH by linear regressions. Finally, field-contaminated soils were used to validate model performance. Our results indicate a strong pH-dependent toxicity of the free metal ions in the soil extracts, with R-2 values ranging from 0.54 to 0.93 (median 0.84), among tests and metals. Using pH-adjusted Cu2+ and Zn2+ concentrations in soil extracts, the toxic responses in spiked soils and field-contaminated soils were similar, indicating a potential for the calibrated models to assess toxic effects in field-contaminated soils, accounting for differences in soil properties and effects of contaminant "aging." Consequently, evaluation of a standardized 0.001 M CaCl2 batch test with a simplified BLM can provide the basis for an easy-to-use tool for site-specific risk assessment of metal toxicity to soil organisms. Environ Toxicol Chem 2022;00:1-14. (c) 2022 The Authors. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of SETAC.


Ecological risk assessment; Biotic ligand model; Bioavailability; Soil contamination; Copper; Zinc; Batch test; Metal toxicity

Published in

Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

2022, volume: 41, number: 6, pages: 1540-1554
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Tiberg, Charlotta
Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI)
Smolders, Erik
University of Leuven (KU Leuven)
Fröberg, Mats
Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment
Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Soil and Environment

UKÄ Subject classification

Soil Science
Environmental Sciences

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