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Earthworms (L. terrestris) have dug tunnels through yellow earth and subsequently deposited casts in the top litter layer, thus mixing minerals and plant debris. Photo taken of a laboratory terrarium. © INRA, FAYOLLE Léon

Soil ecotoxicology and agroecology: partners in progress

By Catherine Foucaud-Scheunemann, translated by Jessica Pearce
Updated on 02/12/2015
Published on 07/03/2014

Ecotoxicology is the study of the effects of toxic chemicals on the environment. It is a rapidly evolving field.

Ecotoxicology exists at the interface between toxicology and ecology. It examines how chemical pollutants (e.g., heavy metals, toxic chemicals, pesticides, medicines, and endocrine disruptors) interact with and affect the living world, from cells to ecosystems. The goal is to understand, predict, and prevent these effects and any associated risks.

When it comes to soils, ecotoxicology and agroecology share many of the same concerns and scientific and societal questions, which revolve around the following themes: impacts and outcomes, scale-dependent factors, ecosystem services, agricultural practices, and risk assessment, among others.

These two fields are often intertwined and have evolved in tandem as knowledge in this realm has advanced.