Impact of earthworms on trace element solubility in contaminated mine soils amended with green waste compost.Environ Pollut. 2011 Jul; 159(7):1852-60.EP
The common practice of remediating metal contaminated mine soils with compost can reduce metal mobility and promote revegetation, but the effect of introduced or colonising earthworms on metal solubility is largely unknown. We amended soils from an As/Cu (1150 mg As kg(-1) and 362 mg Cu kg(-1)) and Pb/Zn mine (4550 mg Pb kg(-1) and 908 mg Zn kg(-1)) with 0, 5, 10, 15 and 20% compost and then introduced Lumbricus terrestris. Porewater was sampled and soil extracted with water to determine trace element solubility, pH and soluble organic carbon. Compost reduced Cu, Pb and Zn, but increased As solubility. Earthworms decreased water soluble Cu and As but increased Pb and Zn in porewater. The effect of the earthworms decreased with increasing compost amendment. The impact of the compost and the earthworms on metal solubility is explained by their effect on pH and soluble organic carbon and the environmental chemistry of each element.