John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

The effect of soil properties on the toxicity of silver to the soil nitrification process

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Silver (Ag) is being increasingly used in a range of consumer products, predominately as an antimicrobial agent, leading to a higher likelihood of its release into the environment. This study investigated the toxicity of Ag to the soil nitrification process in a European and Australian soils in both leached and unleached conditions. Overall, leaching of the soils was found to have a minimal effect on the final toxicity data with average leaching factors of approximately 1. Across the soils the toxicity was found to vary by several orders of magnitude with concentrations of Ag causing a 50% reduction in nitrification relative to the controls (EC50) ranging from 0.43 to > 640 mg Ag/kg. Interestingly, the dose response relationships in most of the soils showed significant stimulation in nitrification at low Ag concentrations (i.e. hormesis), which in some cases produced responses up to double that observed in the controls. Soil pH and organic carbon (OC) were the properties found to have the greatest influence on the variations in toxicity thresholds across the soils and significant relationships were developed that accounted for approximately 90% of the variability in the data. The toxicity relationships developed from this study will assist in future assessment of potential Ag risks and enable the site‐specific prediction of Ag toxicity. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC

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