Ecotoxicology and environmental safety

Development of a standardized reproduction toxicity test with the earthworm species Eisenia fetida andrei using copper, pentachlorophenol and 2,4-dichloroaniline.

PMID 2612422


This article describes a standardized test method for determining the effect of chemical substances on the reproduction of the earthworm Eisenia fetida andrei. It is based on the existing guidelines for acute toxicity testing with earthworms, and for reasons of standardization the same artificial soil substrate and earthworm species were chosen as prescribed by these guidelines. After being preconditioned for one week in untreated soil, earthworms are exposed to the chemical substances for 3 weeks. The number of cocoons produced is determined, and cocoons are incubated in untreated artificial soil for 5 weeks to assess hatchability. Results are presented from toxicity experiments with pentachlorophenol, copper, and 2,4-dichloroaniline. For these compounds no-effect levels (NEL) for cocoon production were 32, 60-120, and 56 dry soil, respectively. Hatching of cocoons was influenced by pentachlorophenol (NEL, 10, but not by copper and dichloroaniline. Following exposure, earthworms were incubated in clean soil again to study the possibility of recovery of cocoon production. For copper and dichloroaniline earthworms did recover cocoon production to a level as high as the control level or even higher; in case of pentachlorophenol, cocoon production was still reduced after 3 weeks in clean soil.