Effects of plastic residues and microplastics on soil ecosystems: A global meta-analysis

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Plastic pollution is one of the global pressing environmental problems, threatening the health of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. However, the influence of plastic residues and microplastics (MPs) in soil ecosystems remains unclear. We conducted a global meta-analysis to quantify the effect of plastic residues and MPs on indicators of global soil ecosystem functioning (i.e. soil physicochemical properties, plant and soil animal health, abundance and diversity of soil microorganisms). Concentrations of plastic residues and MPs were 1–2,700 kg ha−1 and 0.01–600,000 mg kg−1, respectively, based on 6,223 observations. Results show that plastic residues and MPs can decrease soil wetting front vertical and horizontal movement, dissolved organic carbon, and total nitrogen content of soil by 14%, 10%, 9%, and 7%, respectively. Plant height and root biomass were decreased by 13% and 14% in the presence of plastic residues and MPs, while the body mass and reproduction rate of soil animals decreased by 5% and 11%, respectively. However, soil enzyme activity increased by 7%‒441% in the presence of plastic residues and MPs. For soil microorganisms, plastic residues and MPs can change the abundance of several bacteria phyla and families, but the effects vary between different bacteria.


  • plastic residues, microplastics, quantitative effect, soil ecosystem function, meta-analysis
Original languageEnglish
Article number129065
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Early online date5 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2022

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