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Microplastics in terrestrial ecosystem: Sources and migration in soil environment

Authors: U. Surendran PhD, M. Jayakumar, P. Raja, Girish Gopinath, Padmanaban Velayudhaperumal Chellam

Abstract: Plastics, especially microplastics in soils, are considered a severe environmental issue worldwide. However, globally, the main research focus is on microplastic pollution in the marine environment, the microplastic pollution on soils and sediments remains on the sideline so far. But the fact is that microplastics are omnipresent in terrestrial systems in the form of microbeads in industrial systems and in sewage sludge. Their presence in agricultural soils and sediments is enormously increased due to plastic mulching, plastic greenhouses and compost and extensive use of controlled release fertilizers. Therefore, this review outlines the global scenario regarding plastics and microplastics production, consumption, and possible pathways of penetration into the soil environment. Various mechanisms to restrict and manage the pathways of plastics and microplastics into the soil environment are also discussed. This review also focuses on the challenges and limitations on the use of plastic alternates such as bioplastics and oxo plastics. Also, the knowledge gaps on the source of microplastics in the environment and their deleterious effects on properties of soil, soil health and focused light on their soil trophic transfer in food chains via plants. This review provides a detailed insight on the management and possible control measures to alleviate the potential risk caused by microplastics pollution in the soil environment and the overall ecosystem’s health. In spite of the occurrence and fate of microplastics on terrestrial environment, knowledge gaps and challenges for tackling this contamination are also explored which facilitates the policy makers to develop regulatory measures towards the containment of microplastics in living ecosystem.

Keywords: Microplastics, Plastic residues, Soil
Published in: Chemosphere, Volume 318, March 2023, n. 137946

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