How soil is threatened by microplastics



by LORENZO CIOTTI

How soil is threatened by microplastics

A part of microplastics resulting from the washing of synthetic garments produced since the 1950s has been generated in the last decade. It is easy to say: microplastics are intercepted in the sludge of purifiers to prevent them from reaching seas and oceans, but then, very often, they are reintroduced into the environment.

Authors of a reaserch explained: "The emissions of microplastics on land are a known phenomenon but until now the extent of the problem was not clear. Wastewater filtration is not really the end point of the pollutant cycle, because the sludge from the purifiers is used to create biosolids which then produce fertilizers and soil improvers." To block microplastic emissions at the source is the only solution, through special filters to be applied on washing machines, choosing non-synthetic materials for clothes or using delicate washing programs.

The risks in case of inaction? They are not clear, and it is precisely this that scares the scientists.

Experts also said that there are a lot of unknowns right now, and the amount of microplastics and microfibers we are generating is huge and ever increasing.

If things continue like this, there will be major changes in the environment, which will have consequences that we cannot yet be sure of. And this is what makes the situation worrying. Microplastics are accumulating in the seas and oceans, where they become a danger for animals, ecosystems, and even for the human health.

A new study published in Plos One by researchers of the University of California at Santa Barbara reveals that water pollution is only half the story. In fact, a huge amount of microplastics is also released into the soil every year, with long-term effects that could prove equally harmful In the study, the American researchers calculated the amount of plastic microfibers produced during washing in the last 70 years, using information on the characteristics of the washing machines on the market, their use globally, and wastewater remediation procedures.

According to their analyzes, between 1950 and 2016, washing machines around the globe produced 5.6 million tons of microplastics. Of these, 2.9 have ended up in the seas and oceans, while another 2.5 have reached the soil of fields and other terrestrial environments, and 0.6 are kept in landfills.