Terrestrial invertebrates such as earthworms are exposed to potential contamination via all four routes (air, water, soil, plants) with:
- high exposure through soil and plants
- medium exposure through surface water and leaching
- low exposure via air (dusts)
The assessment found that both individuals and populations can be adversely affected by low or acute (i.e. ongoing) exposure making them highly vulnerable at field realistic concentrations – i.e., the concentrations which can be found in agriculture. These effects range from behaviour modification such as feeding inhibitions to mortality.
These species provide a myriad of ecosystem services, including the regulation and cycling of nutrients, carbon storage, and support for plant growth and are dependent on the diverse and complex biological communities that are present in soils.