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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 14 No. 3, p. 383-388
    Received: June 13, 1984

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The Toxicity of Selected Organic Chemicals to the Earthworm Eisenia fetida1

  1. E. F. Neuhauser,
  2. R. C. Loehr,
  3. M. R. Malecki,
  4. D. L. Milligan and
  5. P. R. Durkin2



A number of methods recently have been developed to biologically evaluate the impact of man's activities on soil ecosystems. Two test methods, the 2-d contact test and the 14-d artificial soil test, were used to evaluate the impact of six major classes of organic chemicals on the earthworm Eisenia fetida (Savigny). Of the organic chemicals tested, phenols and amines were the most toxic to the worms, followed in descending order of toxicity by the substituted aromatics, halogenated aliphatics, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and phthalates. No relationship was found between earthworm toxicity as determined by the contact test and rat, Rattus norvegicus Berkenhout and mouse, Mus musculus L. LD50 values. The physicochemical parameters of water solubility, vapor pressure, and octanol/water partition coefficient for the chemicals tested in the contact test did not show a significant relationship to the E. fetida LC50 values. These studies indicate that: (i) earthworms can be a suitable biomonitoring tool to assist in measuring the impact of organic chemicals in wastes added to soils and (ii) contact and artificial soil tests can be useful in measuring biological impacts.

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