Heavy metal concentrations in earthworms from soil amended with sewage sludge

Journal of Environmental Quality
By: , and 



Metal concentrations in soil may be elevated considerably when metal‐laden sewage sludge is spread on land. Metals in earthworms (Lumbricidae) from agricultural fields amended with sewage sludge and from experimental plots were examined to determine if earthworms are important in transferring metals in soil to wildlife. Earthworms from four sites amended with sludge contained significantly (P < 0.05) more Cd (12 times), Cu (2.4 times), Zn (2.0 times), and Pb (1.2 times) than did earthworms from control sites, but the concentrations detected varied greatly and depended on the particular sludge application. Generally, Cd and Zn were concentrated by earthworms relative to soil, and Cu, Pb, and Ni were not concentrated. Concentrations of Cd, Zn, Cu, and Pb in earthworms were correlated (P < 0.05) with those in soil. The ratio of the concentration of metals in earthworms to the concentration of metals in soil tended to be lower in contaminated soil than in clean soil. Concentrations of Cd as high as 100 ppm (dry wt) were detected in earthworms from soil containing only 2 ppm Cd. These concentrations are considered hazardous to wildlife that eat worms. Liming soil decreased Cd concentrations in earthworms slightly (P < 0.05) but had no discernible effect on concentrations of the other metals studied. High Zn concentrations in soil substantially reduced Cd concentrations in earthworms.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Heavy metal concentrations in earthworms from soil amended with sewage sludge
Series title Journal of Environmental Quality
DOI 10.2134/jeq1982.00472425001100030012x
Volume 11
Issue 3
Year Published 1982
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Description 5 p.
First page 381
Last page 385
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional metadata about this publication, not found in other parts of the page is in this table