Main content area

Soil ecotoxicology in Latin America: Current research and perspectives

Niemeyer, Júlia Carina, Chelinho, Sónia, Sousa, José Paulo
Environmental toxicology and chemistry 2017 v.36 no.7 pp. 1795-1810
biodiversity, earthworms, ecotoxicology, education programs, environmental assessment, environmental impact, guidelines, laws and regulations, mining, pesticides, risk assessment, soil, soil pollution, wastes, Brazil, Latin America
Soils from some Latin American countries support the highest biodiversity levels on the planet and simultaneously have some of the most serious environmental impacts attributed to both historical and current agricultural practices and industrial activities. Soil contamination has resulted from intensive use of pesticides, extensive mining and other industrial activities, and uncontrolled management of waste within inappropriate regulatory frameworks. The present study presents an overview of the scientific research on soil ecotoxicology conducted in Latin America, summarizing the recent advances and highlighting the needs for further refinements in this research field. Most of the contributions to the scientific literature have been from Brazil. The most investigated issue is the ecotoxicity of pesticides and earthworms, which were the organisms most frequently used as test species. Needs identified by Latin American researchers include methods and procedures for: 1) identifying and collecting natural soils to be used as reference test‐substrates in tests, 2) identifying and discerning the range of sensitivities of native test species to soil contaminants, 3) developing environmental guidelines applicable to tropical/subtropical conditions, and 4) developing methods and procedures for higher tier testing for full development and implementation of environmental risk assessment schemes. The protection of Latin American soils, including provision of goods and services, is currently framed in legislation and other regulations, but implementation requires significant improvement and additional training programs. Environ Toxicol Chem 2017;36:1795–1810. © 2017 SETAC