This indicator compares the input rate for a well-defined system with the total acceptable output rate for that system. It is based on existing or proposed standards for acceptable crop quality and groundwater quality. If the overall input rate exceeds the sum of allowable output rates the discrepancy factor exceeds unity and problems are expected to occur. By comparing the discrepancy factors for different metals we can assess which heavy metal will eventually lead to the largest violation of (groundwater or crop) standards; that is, which metal is relatively most 'abundant'. This indicator allows for prioritization between different metals. The discrepancy factor for the soil compartment may thus be defined as:
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