Factors affecting the distribution of microplastics in soils of China

Yin Liu, Matthias C. Rillig, Quan Liu, Jingjing Huang, Muhammad Amjad Khan, Xiaohui Li, Qin Liu, Qingqing Wang, Xuesong Su, Linyi Lin, Yang Bai, Genmao Guo, Yi Huang, Yong Sik Ok, Shan Hu, Junfeng Wang, Honggang Ni, Qing Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Microplastics (MPs) are found worldwide in high abundance, posing a potential threat to ecosystems. Despite the ubiquity of MPs in the environment, very little is known about the regional distribution of MPs and underlying factors affecting this distribution in the field, which likely include human activity, but also features of the environment itself. Here, out of a total of 1157 datapoints investigated in 53 Chinese studies, 9.68% datapoints were removed as outliers in the heterogeneity analysis. This review revealed that the abundance of MPs was highly heterogeneous. In addition, microplastic (MP) distribution maps based on China demonstrated that the highest abundance of MPs tended to occur near large rivers and central land affected by the intersection of two monsoons. The model-fitting and previous studies showed that MP abundance in China was correlated with longitude, agricultural mulching film usage per capita, temperature, and precipitation. However, due to the heterogeneity of MPs and the low matching degree between the current environmental data and the sampling points, this pattern was not as evident as reported in any single study. Factors affecting the distribution of MPs can not be captured by linear relationships alone, and systematic selection of suitable environmental factors and further model optimization are needed to explore the cause of MP pollution in soil. Overall, this review revealed an uneven distribution of MPs and serves as a reference for model prediction to assess and control plastic pollution in natural soil environments. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number110
JournalFrontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Sept

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the specific research fund of the Innovation Platform for Academicians of Hainan Province (China) (No. YSPTZX202205); the Research Initiation Fund of Hainan University (China) (No. KYQD(ZR)20032); the Hainan Province Science and Technology Special Fund (China) (No. ZDYF2022SHFZ322); the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China (Nos. 13220064 and 13210133); the Education Department of Hainan Province (China) (No. Hnjgzc2022-3); the National Nature Science Foundation of China (No. 41571288).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, Higher Education Press.


  • Agriculture
  • Effecting factors
  • Microplastic distribution
  • Microplastic heterogeneity
  • Socio-economic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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