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Sci Total Environ. 2009 Apr 1;407(8):2546-56. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.01.016. Epub 2009 Feb 12.

Application of phytotoxicity data to a new Australian soil quality guideline framework for biosolids.

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  • 1Centre for Environmental Contaminants Research, CSIRO Land and Water, Adelaide, South Australia 5064, Australia.


To protect terrestrial ecosystems and humans from contaminants many countries and jurisdictions have developed soil quality guidelines (SQGs). This study proposes a new framework to derive SQGs and guidelines for amended soils and uses a case study based on phytotoxicity data of copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) from field studies to illustrate how the framework could be applied. The proposed framework uses normalisation relationships to account for the effects of soil properties on toxicity data followed by a species sensitivity distribution (SSD) method to calculate a soil added contaminant limit (soil ACL) for a standard soil. The normalisation equations are then used to calculate soil ACLs for other soils. A soil amendment availability factor (SAAF) is then calculated as the toxicity and bioavailability of pure contaminants and contaminants in amendments can be different. The SAAF is used to modify soil ACLs to ACLs for amended soils. The framework was then used to calculate soil ACLs for copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn). For soils with pH of 4-8 and OC content of 1-6%, the ACLs range from 8 mg/kg to 970 mg/kg added Cu. The SAAF for Cu was pH dependant and varied from 1.44 at pH 4 to 2.15 at pH 8. For soils with pH of 4-8 and OC content of 1-6%, the ACLs for amended soils range from 11 mg/kg to 2080 mg/kg added Cu. For soils with pH of 4-8 and a CEC from 5-60, the ACLs for Zn ranged from 21 to 1470 mg/kg added Zn. A SAAF of one was used for Zn as it concentrations in plant tissue and soil to water partitioning showed no difference between biosolids and soluble Zn salt treatments, indicating that Zn from biosolids and Zn salts are equally bioavailable to plants.

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