Plastics In Our Soils: New Territory In The Plastic Contamination Issue
So far, the majority of microplastics research has focused on the marine environment. Whilst the ocean is likely the ultimate destination for small plastic particles, the role of terrestrial environments should not be overlooked. Soils in agricultural and urban areas have the potential to be highly contaminated with microplastic (particles between 0.1 µm and 5 mm) and possibly also nanoplastic (particles measured in the nanometer range). These systems may represent major environmental reservoirs of micro(nano)plastic, with several potential exposure pathways for organisms and human populations.
The range of potential sources of microplastics to agricultural systems is large, varied, and likely complex. The reuse of sewage sludge as a fertilizer for farmland has been highlighted as a pathway through which very large amounts of microplastic may be released into the environment. Wastewater treatment plants are effective at trapping the majority of microplastics that enter. These may include microbeads from personal care products or fibers from the washing of synthetic textiles, for example.
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