Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 390, Issue 8, pp 1975–1985

The risk of altering soil and sediment samples upon extract preparation for analytical and bio-analytical investigations—a review

  • Thomas-Benjamin Seiler
  • Tobias Schulze
  • Henner Hollert

DOI: 10.1007/s00216-008-1933-z

Cite this article as:
Seiler, T., Schulze, T. & Hollert, H. Anal Bioanal Chem (2008) 390: 1975. doi:10.1007/s00216-008-1933-z


Organic total extracts play an important role in soil and sediment risk assessment. Beside a routine application in analytical chemistry, they are used in bio-analytical investigations as a “worst-case scenario” or, e.g., in order to simulate chronic intoxication, and as samples for effect-directed analysis. While theoretically providing highly reliable data and good reproducibility, the whole process of sample handling and extract preparation can lead to extracts that might fail to accurately represent a toxic potential of their corresponding sampling site. This review identifies and discusses the most important possible alterations that have the potential to lead to over and, more often, underestimation of the effectiveness of extracts. Since incorrect data will compromise soil and sediment risk assessment as a whole, results from analytical and bio-analytical investigations of extracts demand cautious interpretation. Reliability of extract testing grows with reproducibility; experiments should therefore be repeated with independent extraction replicates. New or optimized extraction procedures should circumvent the issues mentioned here while being suitable for routine application.


SoilSedimentExtractionRisk of alterationBioassaysSample treatment



particulate organic matter


dissolved organic matter


amorphous organic carbon


carbonaceous organic carbon


effect-directed analysis


toxicity identification evaluation


pressurized liquid extraction


gel-permeation chromatography


dimethyl sulfoxide


membrane dialysis extraction

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas-Benjamin Seiler
    • 1
  • Tobias Schulze
    • 2
  • Henner Hollert
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecosystem Analysis, Institute for Environmental Research (Biology 5)RWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Effect-Directed AnalysisUFZ Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental ResearchLeipzigGermany