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EC number: 200-315-5
CAS number: 57-13-6
Earthworms were found to be the most
sensitive group for the terrestrial environment.
Multiple acute and chronic studies are
available for earthworms covering different species, life stages,
laboratory and field studies, investigation of the mode of action and
Information for other ecological groups is
present as well and was used together with the information for
earthworms for the derivation of the H05 by SSD.
used as fertilizer. It is well known, that long term exposure of urea
can significantly reduces soil pH, which in agricultural situations is
controlled by liming. In some long-term studies, the pH was not
adjusted. Inhibitory effects after repetitive exposure of urea were
attributed to the lowering of soil pH, exclusively. Hence, long-term
studies with repeated application without pH adjustment need to be
carefully reviewed to avoid potential misinterpretation of their
as fertilizer, the toxic effects of urea observed in plants were
contributed to the formation of ammonia which damaged the plants. This
can be compensated by the addition of urease inhibitors or sterilization
of the soil prior to seeding and fertilization.
sensitive group of organisms are earthworms and especially E. fetida.
The mode of action of urea on earthworms is corrosion of the surface and
surface close tissue. This has been observed in various earthworm
species. Earthworms react with avoidance behaviour on the presence of
urea. In a 33-year field study (Murchie et al. 2015) the pH was
controlled and positive effects were observed for all 12 investigated
earthworm species at a yearly application rate of 429 kg/ha,
corresponding to 286 mg urea/kg dw/year.
the avoidance behaviour effects observed in laboratory tests (OECD 222)
seems to be worst case when compared to field studies. The PNEC soil was
derived by using the earthworm laboratory data as most sensitive group
(and data for other taxa) and resulted in a H05 of 242 mg urea/kg dw.
it was observed that management practices that encourage earthworm
abundance (like mineral fertilization with nitrogen and phosphorous) are
the same as those assuring a good support for a large crop productivity
necessary for sustainable agroecosystems."
cited from M. Iordache, I. Borza 2010 Relation between chemical indices
of soil and earthworm abundance under chemical fertilization ( PLANT
SOIL ENVIRON., 56, 2010 (9): 401–407)
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