Soil pollution is growing at an alarming rate in today's industrialized world as a result of increasing anthropogenic activities, either intentional (e.g., use of fertilizers and pesticides, irrigation with untreated wastewater, or land application of sewage sludge) or accidental (e.g., oil spills or leaching from landfills). Terrestrial soil pollution from transportation fuels such as Diesel or Biodiesel is inevitable as they are part of life's necessities. Biodiesel is considered an environmental friendly fuel due to its non-hydrocarbon composition and low particulate matter emission. However, there are still some controversies regarding biodiesel environmental toxicity to terrestrial life. Little is known about the ecotoxicity of plant-based biodiesels to soil organisms. In the present study, three ecotoxicological tests including an earthworm (Eisenia fetida) 14-day soil toxicity test, a filter paper contact toxicity test, and a cocoon hatchability test were performed to examine the toxic effects of three plant-based biodiesels - safflower methyl ester (SaME), castor methyl ester (CME), and castor ethyl ester (CEE), with Diesel fuel. Unlike Diesel, the biodiesels were less toxic based on low earthworm mortality in the soil toxicity test. However significant morbidity responses (e.g., weight loss, coiling, posterior and anterior fragmentation, and excessive discharge of coelomic fluid) were observed in earthworms exposed to biodiesel. Further, in the cocoon hatchability test, biodiesels were equally toxic to Diesel at 2% and 5% soil concentrations, with no hatching success.
- Eisenia fetida
- Soil toxicity