We studied the relation of trace element concentrations in soil to those in house mice (Mus musculus), common reed (Phragmites australis) and ladybugs (Coccinella septempunctata) at five disposal facilities for dredged material. The sites had a wide range of soil trace element concentrations, acid soils and a depauperate fauna. They were very poor wildlife habitat because they were dominated by the common reed. Bioassay earthworms exposed to surface soils from three of the five sites died, whereas those exposed to four of five soils collected a meter deep survived, presumably because the deeper, unoxidized soil, was not as acid. Concentrations of Ni and Cr in the biota from each of the sites did not seem to be related to the concentrations of the same elements in soil. Although Pb, Zn and Cu concentrations in biota were correlated with those in soil, the range of concentrations in the biota was quite small compared to that in soil. The concentrations of Pb detected in mice were about as high as the concentrations previously reported in control mice from other studies. Mice from the most contaminated site (530 ppm Pb in soil) contained only slightly more Pb (8 ppm dry wt) than did mice (2-6 ppm dry wt) from sites containing much less Pb (22-92 ppm in soil). Despite the acid soil conditions, very little Cd was incorporated into food chains. Rather, Cd was leaching from the surface soil. We concluded that even the relatively high concentrations of trace elements in the acid dredged material studied did not cause high, concentrations of trace elements in the biota.
Additional publication details
Trace elements in soil and biota in confined disposal facilities for dredged material