The Toxicity of Mustard and Mustard Lewisite to Terrestrial Organisms


  1. Miller, T.
  2. Goudey, S.
  3. Zapf-Gilje, R.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Suffield, Ralston ALTA (CAN);Golder Associates Ltd, Burnaby BC (CAN)
Chemical warfare agents, specifically mustard (HD) and mustard-lewisite (HL) mixtures have been used and stored in defence research and training establishments in Canada and abroad. HydroQual Laboratories Ltd. Was contracted through Golder Associates Ltd. (Burnaby) to evaluate the toxicity of HD and HL to soil-dwelling organisms for Defence Research Establishment Suffield (DRES). The toxicity of HD and HL to terrestrial organisms was evaluated by applying soil health index tests (SHI) to two types of soils fortified with known quantities of HD and HL. Several concentrations were used to establish a dose-response relationship. The tests included root elongation and seedling emergence (lettuce, alfalfa and northern wheatgrass), soil respiration, bacterial growth (ECHA biomonitors), total heterotrophic bacteria, nematode survival, earthworm survival, algal growth inhibition, and bacterial luminescence. Tests were done on both water and methanol extracts of the soils. These solvents also permitted resolution of the presence and availability of contaminants with different physical and chemical properties. The soil samples spiked with HD did not have a strong toxicological impact on the microbial, plant or invertebrate species tested. The most sensitive endpoint noted was earthworm avoidance with a no effect concentration of 160 mg/kg. Mustard-lewisite applied to soils was highly toxic to all trophic levels tested, for both direct soil exposure tests, and aqueous and methanol extra
Earthworm Survival and Progeny;Terrestrial organisms;Microbial;Bacterial luminescence;Echa Biomonitor;Seedling mergence;Root elongation;Algal growth;Nematode
Report Number
DRDC-SUFFIELD-CR-2005-198 — Contractor Report
Date of publication
01 Sep 1998
Number of Pages
Hardcopy;Document Image stored on Optical Disk

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