Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 14, pp 13217–13225 | Cite as

Ecotoxicological impact of arsenic on earthworms and collembolans as affected by attributes of a highly weathered tropical soil

  • Paulo Roger Lopes AlvesEmail author
  • Evandro Barbosa da Silva
  • Elke Jurandy Bran Nogueira Cardoso
  • Luís Reynaldo Ferracciú Alleoni
Ecotoxicology in Tropical Regions


High levels of heavy metals in soils may impose serious impacts on terrestrial organisms. In Brazil, the prevention values for evaluating the ecological risk of these elements are based only on soil chemical analyses and/or on data from ecotoxicological assays performed in soils of temperate regions. However, the attributes of the Brazilian highly-weathered tropical soils can influence the availability of heavy metals for soil fauna, resulting in different toxic values. To provide more accurate ecotoxicological risk values for arsenic (As) in tropical soils, we assessed the impacts of sodium arsenate (Na2HAsO4·7H2O) on the reproduction of earthworms (Eisenia andrei) and collembolans (Folsomia candida), as well as on As bioaccumulation and growth (weight loss) of E. andrei in a tropical artificial soil (TAS) and in an Oxisol. In TAS, As doses reduced the reproduction of the species and promoted weight loss of earthworms. On the other hand, the reproductions of the species as well as the earthworm growth were not altered by As in the Oxisol. The effective concentrations that reduce the reproduction of E. andrei and F. candida by 50 % (EC50) obtained in TAS (22.7 and 26.1 mg of As kg−1 of dry soil, respectively) were lower than those in the Oxisol (>135 mg kg−1, for both species). Although there was As bioaccumulation in earthworms in both soils, the internal concentrations in the earthworms were much higher in the oligochaetes exposed to arsenic in TAS. All these differences were attributed to the higher availability of As in the TAS, compared to the Oxisol, which increased the exposure of the species to the metal. The lower availability in the Oxisol was related to higher contents of type 1:1 silicate minerals and Fe and Al oxides and hydroxides, which strongly bind to As. These results highlight the importance of using tropical soils of humid regions to derive the Brazilian ecological risk prevention values for heavy metals, since the toxicity values are specific for these soils.

Keywords Earthworms Collembolans Prevention values Heavy metal Bioaccumulation Ecotoxicity 



P.R.L.A and E.B.S. thank the Department of Soil Science at College of Agriculture Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ), University of São Paulo (USP), for the research opportunity. E.J.B.N.C. and L.R.F.A. thank the National Council for Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) for research grants.

Compliance with ethical standards

Human and animal rights and informed consent

We declare that these experiments were conducted in accordance with EC Directive 86/609/EEC and national and institutional guidelines for the protection of human subjects and animal welfare.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paulo Roger Lopes Alves
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Evandro Barbosa da Silva
    • 2
  • Elke Jurandy Bran Nogueira Cardoso
    • 2
  • Luís Reynaldo Ferracciú Alleoni
    • 2
  1. 1.Federal University of Fronteira Sul (UFFS)ChapecóBrazil
  2. 2.Department of Soil Science, College of Agriculture Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ)University of São Paulo (USP)PiracicabaBrazil

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