Published chronic toxicity data for Hg(II) added to soils were assembled and evaluated to produce a data set comprising 52 chronic endpoints, five each for plants and invertebrates and 42 for microbes. With endpoints expressed in terms of added soil Hg(II) contents, Critical Limits were derived from the 5th percentiles of species sensitivity distributions, values of 0.13 μg (g soil)-1 and 3.3 μg (g soil organic matter)-1 being obtained. The latter value exceeds the currently-recommended Critical Limit, used to determine Hg(II) Critical Loads in Europe, of 0.5 μg (g soil organic matter)-1. We also applied the WHAM/Model VI chemical speciation model to estimate concentrations of Hg2+ in soil solution, and derived an approximate Critical Limit Function (CLF) that includes pH; log [Hg2+]crit = - 2.15 pH – 17.10. Because they take soil properties into account, the soil organic matter-based limit and the CLF provide the best assessment of toxic threat for different soils. For differing representative soils, each predicts a range of up to 100-fold in the dry weight-based content of mercury that corresponds to the Critical Limit
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