14 Dec 2021
14 Dec 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Polyester Microplastic Fibers affect Soil Physical Properties and Erosion as a Function of Soil Type

Rosolino Ingraffia1,2,3, Gaetano Amato1,4, Vincenzo Bagarello1, Francesco G. Carollo1, Dario Giambalvo1,4, Massimo Iovino1, Anika Lehmann2,3, Matthias C. Rillig2,3, and Alfonso S. Frenda1 Rosolino Ingraffia et al.
  • 1Department of Agricultural, Food and Forest Sciences, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo, Italy
  • 2Plant Ecology, Institute of Biology, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 3Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research, Berlin, Germany
  • 4Fondazione A. e S. Lima Mancuso, Piazza Marina 61, 90133, Palermo, Italy

Abstract. Microplastic is recognized as a factor of global change affecting many environmental compartments. Agricultural soils are likely hotspots of microplastic contamination in terrestrial ecosystems and are of particular concern due to their role in food production. Microplastic has already been shown to be able to affect soil properties, but its effect on different soil types is poorly understood. Moreover, no information is available on how the presence of this pollutant can affect soil water erosion processes, which are extremely important issues in many environments. In the light of this, we performed two experiments (a microcosm and a mesocosm study) to investigate how the presence of polyester microplastic fibers affects soil physical and hydrological parameters and processes such as aggregate formation and soil erosion in three different agricultural soil types.

Our data show that the effects of polyester microplastic on soil physical parameters (including soil aggregation and erosion) are strongly dependent on soil type. We found that microplastic contamination can decrease the formation of new aggregates but at the same time increase their stability in water, with effects on soil erosion stronger as the intrinsic erodibility of soil increases.

Overall, our results highlight the importance of broadly exploring soil properties such as texture, mineralogy, and organic carbon content to better understand how the various soil types respond to microplastic contamination.

Rosolino Ingraffia et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on soil-2021-136', Anonymous Referee #1, 29 Dec 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on soil-2021-136', Frederick Büks, 05 Jan 2022
  • CC1: 'Comment on soil-2021-136', Emilee Severe, 25 Jan 2022

Rosolino Ingraffia et al.

Rosolino Ingraffia et al.


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Short summary
The presence of microplastic in a soil environment has received increased attention, but little research exists on the effects on different soil types and soil water erosion. We performed two experiments on the effects of polyester microfiber on soil properties and soil aggregation and erosion in three agricultural soils. Results showed that microplastic affects the formation of new aggregates, their stability in water, and soil erosion and that such effects are strongly dependent on soil type.