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Modelling the accumulation of hydrophobic organic chemicals in earthworms

Application of the equilibrium partitioning theory


In this paper a method is developed which can be used to estimate the body burden of organic hydrophobic chemicals in earthworms. In contrast to the equilibrium partitioning theory, two routes of uptake are incorporated: uptake from interstitial water and dietary uptake. Although many uncertainties still remain, calculations show that for earthworms steady state body burdens are mainly determined by uptake from interstitial water. Under most circumstances, the contribution of dietary uptake is small, except for hydrophobic chemicals (log Kow > 5) in soils with a high organic matter (OM) content of ≈ 20 %. Under those conditions, estimates of the steady state body burden calculated with the equilibrium partitioning model, in which only uptake from interstitial water is taken into account, might result in a small underestimation of the real body burden of chemicals in earthworms.

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Correspondence to Angélique C. Belfroid.

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Belfroid, A.C., Scinen, W., van Gestel, K.C.A.M. et al. Modelling the accumulation of hydrophobic organic chemicals in earthworms. Environ. Sci. & Pollut. Res. 2, 5–15 (1995). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02987505

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Key words

  • Hydrophobic organic chemicals
  • accumulation of chemicals in earthworms
  • equilibrium partitioning theory
  • biomonitoring
  • earthworms, uptake of chemicals from interstitial water
  • earthworms
  • dietary uptake of chemicals
  • exposure models
  • soil ecosystems
  • risk assessment
  • toxicity tests