Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 189–204 | Cite as

Soil ecotoxicological screening (tier 1) for a diffuse-contaminated drainage area surrounding a lacustrine ecosystem in the Centre of Portugal

  • Márcia Bessa da Silva
  • Nelson Abrantes
  • Carla Patinha
  • Eduardo Ferreira da Silva
  • João Carlos Marques
  • Fernando Gonçalves
  • Ruth Pereira
Soils, Sec 4 • Ecotoxicology • Research Article



This study presents a different approach for the application of the Dutch Risk Assessment Framework for contaminated sites, to areas undergoing diffuse pollution from agriculture activities. This approach aims to reduce the costs of tier 1, by using the ecotoxicological line of evidence (EcotoxLoE) to select the soils for chemical analysis of potential contaminants and subsequently for an integrated evaluation of risks by combining both the chemical (ChemLoE) and the EcotoxLoE.

Materials and methods

A battery of cost-effective and time-effective standard bioassays was applied, considering soil habitat function (whole soil approach—Microtox® test and avoidance assays with Folsomia candida) and soil retention function (elutriate approach—growth inhibition test with Raphidocelis subcapitata) for evaluating a vast array of samples collected in the study area. After a preliminary calculation of risks based on ecotoxicological data, samples displaying a moderate risk were screened for chemical analysis of the most used pesticides in the area, as well as for total metal concentrations after extraction following standard methods. For these samples, risks based on the ChemLoE and integrated risks were calculated.

Results and discussion

The ChemLoE confirmed the evaluation made by the EcotoxLoE and reduced the level of risk (<0.5) for the samples formerly presenting a moderate risk.


Given the sensitivity of the ecotoxicological assays to the mixture of contaminants potentially found in soils, the approach proved to be a good strategy for the application of the ERA framework, in particular of tier 1, on a routine basis, to areas under diffuse pollution. Since in these areas a more intense sampling is required, it can contribute to reducing the costs of the ChemLoE that can make the application of the ERA framework prohibitive.


Chemical evaluation Diffuse pollution Ecotoxicological evaluation Integrated risk values Soil toxicity screening 



This work was supported by Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)) through individual research grant references SFRH/BD/48597/2008, under QREN-POPH funds, co-financed by the European Social Fund and Portuguese National Funds from MEC. Nelson Abrantes is the recipient of a researcher contract (IF/01198/2014) from FCT. CESAM is supported by FCT/MEC through national funds, and the co-funding by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020 (UID/AMB/50017). MARE is supported by FCT (project PEst-UID/MAR/04292/2013). Finally, CIIMAR is supported by the Strategic Funding UID/Multi/04423/2013 001 through national funds provided by FCT/MEC-Foundation for Science and Technology and European Regional Development Fund (FEDER), in the framework of the program PT2020.

Supplementary material

11368_2017_1735_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Table S1 (DOCX 13 kb)
11368_2017_1735_MOESM2_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Table S2 (DOCX 12 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Márcia Bessa da Silva
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nelson Abrantes
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carla Patinha
    • 3
  • Eduardo Ferreira da Silva
    • 3
  • João Carlos Marques
    • 4
  • Fernando Gonçalves
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ruth Pereira
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  2. 2.Centre of Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM)University of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  3. 3.GEOBIOTEC Research Unit, Geoscience DepartmentUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  4. 4.Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre (MARE), Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  5. 5.Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR)University of PortoPortoPortugal
  6. 6.Department of Biology & GreenUP/CITAB-UP, Porto, Portugal, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal

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