Bioavailability of Metals from Soil: Update on Ongoing Research. Y. W. Lowney, M. V. Ruby, and J. Salatas, Exponent, CO, WA
Metals occur in soil as a complex mixture of solid-phase chemical compounds of varying particle size and morphology. These compounds include discrete mineral phases, coprecipitated and sorbed species associated with soil minerals or organic matter, and dissolved species that may be complexed by a variety of organic and inorganic ligands. The occurrence and relative distribution of an element among these various phases, and the physical relation between the phases and the soil, control an elementís solubility, and hence, its bioavailability. If the bioavailability of a metal from soil is significantly lower than the bioavailability of soluble forms of the metal upon which toxicity values are generally determined, then the toxicity value cannot be used directly to accurately characterize toxicity or risk for either human or ecological receptors. This presentation will discuss this concept of "relative bioavailability" of metals from soil, and provide an update of a multi-year research effort directed at evaluating the relative bioavailability of metals from soil to both humans and wildlife. Issues to be discussed will include information regarding which specific metals are driving risks and remedial decisions at sites within the United States, studies of bioavailability that are being conducted in vivo, and plans to develop in vitro techniques for evaluating the relative bioavailability of metals from soil.
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