Interactions between earthworms and arsenic in the soil environment: a review

Caroline J Langdon, Trevor G Piearce, Andrew A Meharg, Kirk T Semple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Citations (Scopus)


Chemical pollution of the environment has become a major source of concern. In particular, many studies have investigated the impact of pollution on biota in the environment. Studies on metalliferous contaminated mine spoil wastes have shown that some soil organisms have the capability to become resistant to metal/metalloid toxicity. Earthworms are known to inhabit arsenic-rich metalliferous soils and, due to their intimate contact with the soil, in both the solid and aqueous phases, are likely to accumulate contaminants present in mine spoil. Earthworms that inhabit metalliferous contaminated soils must have developed mechanisms of resistance to the toxins found in these soils. The mechanisms of resistance are not fully understood; they may involve physiological adaptation (acclimation) or be genetic. This review discusses the relationships between earthworms and arsenic-rich mine spoil wastes, looking critically at resistance and possible mechanisms of resistance, in relation to soil edaphic factors and possible trophic transfer routes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-73
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution

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