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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2007 Jun;67(2):163-79. Epub 2007 Apr 18.

Monitoring metals in terrestrial environments within a bioavailability framework and a focus on soil extraction.

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National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Laboratory for Ecological Risk Assessment, PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


Bioavailability considerations are one of the tools for a proper assignment of sites potentially and actually at risk as it allows assessing both the extent (hazard) and probability (risk) of adverse effects. In this paper, bioavailability considerations are linked to physico-chemical methods available for assessing metal fractions in soils. The focus of the overview is on empirical methods for extraction of metals from soils as a surrogate for the metal-, species- and soil-type-dependent bioavailable and bioaccessible metal pools. This cumulates in a generalized flow chart for monitoring of metals in soils. In support of the general monitoring strategy, examples are given of successful applications of analytical methods for predicting metal uptake by plants and animals, for assessing the origin of metals in soils, as well as the leaching potential of soils and the extent of soil contamination. It is concluded that a large arrays of chemical assessment methodologies for metal speciation in solid and liquid soil phases are available. As most assessment methodologies are operationally defined instead of being functionally defined, examples of mechanistically based monitoring approaches of bioavailability are still scarce. The value of the methods for measuring bioavailability can be significantly improved when the species, metal, and soil specific aspects of bioavailability are more accurately taken into account in the design of chemical simulation methodologies.

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