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Public Health
Expert opinion

New conclusions regarding future trends of cadmium accumulation in EU arable soils

Final Opinion


Publication date
27 November 2015
Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER)


SCHER members: Maria José Carroquino, Raquel Duarte Davidson, Jadwiga Gzyl, Teresa Fernandes, Colin Janssen (Chair), Jan Linders (Rapporteur)
External experts: Marco Vighi (external expert, Rapporteur)
On request from: European Commission
Adopted on: 27 November 2015

In 2002, the former Scientific Committee for Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and Environment prepared an Opinion on “The Member State Assessments of the Risk to Health and the Environment from Cadmium in Fertilizers” (CSTEE, 2002). Since then, new scientific information has become available. The Commission requested the SCHER to consider whether this new information was of sufficient scientific quality to warrant an update of the CSTEE Opinion of 2002.

Content of the opinion:

The new information provided contains data on the current levels of cadmium in the environment, which now are an order of magnitude lower compared to the data used in 2002. It also includes new estimations of some of the parameters used by CSTEE and a more advanced model that allows a refined calculation. The SCHER concludes that, in general the newly acquired information is of sufficient scientific quality and forms a sound basis for the current assessment. Therefore, the SCHER is of the opinion that the conclusions of the report can be supported and the indicated new, low environmental cadmium (Cd) levels warrant revision of the conclusions presented by CSTEE in 2002

Although the newly acquired information is accepted by the SCHER in general, the SCHER does want to make several recommendations to improve the current modelling results. Indeed, some assumptions cannot be accepted by the SCHER as they are based on insufficiently sound scientific information. For some other parameters the SCHER would prefer another choice for the realistic worst-case assumption provided in the new information. Examples of these suggestions are the upper limit Cd deposition on soils from the atmosphere, the value assumed for the Cd-concentration in manure, the assumed pH of the soils and the assumed organic carbon in EU 27 + Norway soils. In addition, the SCHER suggests a higher worst-case fertiliser input. According to the SCHER, these suggestions may affect the outcome of the model although it is not expected that the results will change dramatically. Nevertheless, a recalculation of the final Cd soil concentrations using these SCHER proposals is recommended.


cadmium, fertiliser, human toxicity, environmental effects, accumulation, arable soils

Opinion to be cited as:

SCHER (Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks), SCHER Opinion on new conclusions regarding future trends of cadmium accumulation in EU arable soils, 27 November 2015.


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