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Resources on Plastics in the Environment (June 2022): Harms to the Land: Plastics in the Soil

By Margaret Manion

Harms to the Land: Plastics in the Soil

Because humans inhabit the land, the subject of plastics in the terrestrial environment is of great concern, yet as stated in Microplastics in Terrestrial Environments, edited by Defu He and Yongming Luo, there are many fewer publications addressing microplastics in terrestrial environments than are found on aquatic environments, possibly due to the reduced visibility of such waste in soils. As a case in point, microplastics found in municipal solid waste systems and those released during industrial processes often end up in sludge, the solid residual end product of waste treatment plants, while another common source of microplastics in soil may be mulching, an agricultural practice whereby thin sheets of plastic are placed between rows of plants to reduce weed growth and retain moisture. This work provides information on the sources of microplastics in the terrestrial environment—their abundance, detection, distribution, and fate—and also discusses associated health and ecological harms. Potential solutions discussed by various authors include technical as well as regulatory and political strategies.

Works Cited