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

Jiani Hu, Defu He, Xiaoting Zhang, Xinyu Li, Yingxin Chen, Gao Wei, Yalin Zhang, Yong Sik Ok, Yongming Luo

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88 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127283
JournalJournal of hazardous materials
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. U19A2095 and 41991330 ), the National Key Research and Development of China (No. 2018YFC1901004 ) and funding by the Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Biotransformation of Organic Solid Waste ( SERC2020A01 ). This work was carried out with the support of " Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science and Technology Development (No. PJ01475801 )", Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea . We specially thank Prof. Matthias C. Rillig and Dr. Anika Lehmann (Freie Universitat Berlin) for detailed comments on this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Crop biomass
  • Environmental impacts
  • Farmland soils
  • Microplastics
  • National-scale pattern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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