National-scale distribution of micro(meso)plastics in farmland soils across China: Implications for environmental impacts

Abstract Microplastics (MPs) pollution is increasingly appreciated as a significant environmental issue, however, the large-scale pattern of MPs in farmland soils and its associated environmental impacts are unknown. This study investigated a national-scale distribution of micro(meso)plastics (MMPs) in the soil of 30 farmlands across China. The abundance of MMPs in soils was 25.56–2067.78 items kg−1, with a mean of 358.37 items kg−1, i.e. 6.79 mg kg−1 or 0.0007% after mass conversion. MPs accounted for 93.1% of MMPs, the abundance varied greatly among different regions, high in arid or semi-arid north but relatively low in mild southwest regions. Major MPs included polypropylene, polyethylene, and polyester, tending to decrease in abundance from surface to deeper soil layers. Further, meta-analysis revealed that MPs exposure influenced bulk density, soil enzymes including fluorescein diacetate hydrolase (FDAse) and urease, and crop biomass, and minimum effective concentrations (MEC) were in the range of 0.0040–10%. We found that actual abundance in the national-scale soils was lower than MEC, but partly overlapped or close, which implies various degrees of environmental impacts. These findings disclose the national-scale pollution pattern of MPs in farmlands and its latent risks to soil environments and crop growth.
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