Metals are found in free and also in combined forms. In order to get information on the effect of free forms of heavy metals on earthworms the aqueous extracts of metals were tested on earthworms both in individual form and also in combined form. Different concentrations, i.e. 1 ppm, 5 ppm, and 10 ppm, were selected arbitrarily and were used in the experiments. Metals like copper, cadmium, chromium, zinc and lead were used. Earthworms’ Eudrillus eugeniae activity, i.e. their response to the toxicity of metals, was monitored continuously for 5 h. It can be concluded that free form/ionic form/dissolved form of heavy metals are more toxic for earthworms, concurrent with findings of workers who have drawn same inference during studies on aquatic organisms. Earthworms can serve as biomarkers for wastewater and sludge treatment studies as they have shown typical adverse body reactions and symptoms altogether different in reaction to each of the metals during aqueous medium studies. It can be inferred that, if earthworms are utilised for treating wastewater and sludges containing these five heavy metals, one can ascertain the presence of individual metal concentrations in the wastewaters and sludges by studying the typical body reactions of earthworms during the treatment.
Keywords: earthworms, heavy metals, solubility, toxicity