Risk assessment of heavy metal pollution for detritivores in floodplain soils in the Biesbosch, The Netherlands, taking bioavailability into account.Environ Pollut. 2004 Jun; 129(3):409-19.EP
Floodplains of the European rivers Rhine and Meuse are heavily polluted. We investigated the risk of heavy metal pollution (Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn) for detritivores living in a floodplain area, the Biesbosch, the Netherlands, affected by these rivers. Total soil, pore water and 0.01 M CaCl(2) extractable concentrations and concentrations in plant leaves, earthworms, isopods and millipedes were measured in two sites and compared with literature data to assess possible risks. Based on total metal concentrations in soil, serious effects on detritivores were expected. However, 0.01 M CaCl(2) extractable, pore water and plant leaf concentrations were similar to metal concentrations found in unpolluted areas. Concentrations of Cu and Cd in earthworms and Cu in millipedes were higher in the Biesbosch than in animals from reference areas. All other measured concentrations of heavy metals in earthworms, isopods and millipedes were similar to the ones found in reference areas. Despite high total soil concentrations, effects of Zn, Cu, Pb and Cd pollution on isopods are therefore not expected, while millipedes may only be affected by Cu. Since Cu and Cd levels in earthworms were increased compared to animals in unpolluted soils, this faunal group seems to be most at risk. Given the engineering role of earthworms in ecosystems, effects on the ecological functioning of floodplain soils therefore cannot be excluded.