Effects of microplastics on the terrestrial environment: A critical review

Pavani Dulanja Dissanayake, Soobin Kim, Binoy Sarkar, Patryk Oleszczuk, Mee Kyung Sang, Md Niamul Haque, Jea Hyung Ahn, Michael S. Bank, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Citations (Scopus)


Microplastics are emerging contaminants and there has been growing concern regarding their impacts on aquatic and terrestrial environments. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the current knowledge regarding the sources, occurrences, fates, and risks associated with microplastic contamination in terrestrial environments. This contamination occurs via multiple sources, including primary microplastics (including synthetic materials) and secondary microplastics (derived from the breakdown of larger plastic particles). Microplastic contamination can have both beneficial and detrimental effects on soil properties. Additionally, microplastics have been shown to interact with a wide array of contaminants, including pesticides, persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, and antibiotics, and may act as a vector for contaminant transfer in terrestrial environments. Microplastics and their associated chemicals can be transferred through food webs and may accumulate across multiple trophic levels, resulting in potential detrimental health effects for humans and other organisms. Although several studies have focused on the occurrence and impacts of microplastic contamination in marine environments, their sources, fate, transport, and effects in terrestrial environments are less studied and not well understood. Therefore, further research focusing on the fate, transport, and impacts of microplastics in relation to soil properties, polymer composition and forms, and land-use types is needed. The development of standardized and harmonized methods for analyzing microplastics in soil-plant ecosystems is essential. Future work should also consider the many interactions of microplastics with soil quality and ecotoxicological impacts on biota in the context of global environmental change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112734
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun

Bibliographical note

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© 2022


  • Contaminants
  • Microplastics
  • Soil properties
  • Toxicity
  • Trophic transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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