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Ecological risk assessment of polymetallic sites using weight of evidence approach

Li, Xuzhi, Wang, Meie, Chen, Weiping, Uwizeyimana, Herman
Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 2018 v.154 pp. 255-262
aquatic ecosystems, bioaccumulation, biomarkers, earthworms, environmental assessment, heavy metals, polluted soils, risk, risk assessment, soil ecosystems, weight-of-evidence
Ecological risk assessment (ERA) of polymetallic contamination in soils has caused extensive solicitude. However, objective and feasible methods suitable for soil ERA are limited. Therefore, in this study, a multidisciplinary and quantitative weight of evidence approach (WOE) specific to soil ecosystems was developed based on the previous WOE for aquatic ecosystems. The framework consisted of four lines of evidence (LOEs): DTPA-extractable heavy metal in soils, bioaccumulation in earthworms, integration of biomarker responses and expected community effect (multi-substance Potentially Affected Fraction, msPAF). These four LOEs were initially evaluated by each hazard quotient (HQ) of them based on the ratio to the reference (RTR) of each parameter. Then, Environmental risk index (EnvRI) integrated by HQs with different weights was calculated. At last, three sites, one for reference (N1) and two for contaminated soils (N2 and N3) were chosen to apply the modified WOE approach. Results showed that heavily contaminated site, N3 had higher HQ classification for each LOE and its EnvRI was classified as Major levels, while the EnvRI of N2 was assigned into Moderate. What's more, HQ of biomarker response (HQbiomarker) integrated by RTRs of biomarkers increased gradiently with the increase of heavy metal levels in soils though irregular changes were observed for most of those biomarkers. Overall, our results indicated that the quantitative WOE framework specific to soil ERA had the advantage of obtaining a comprehensive and objective risk assessment.