Thomas Robinson | September 8th, 2020
Microplastics in soils have recently been linked to increased cadmium uptake and root damage in wheat plants.
Researchers at Kansas State University have demonstrated that crops grown in the presence of microplastics are more likely to be contaminated with cadmium than crops grown in the absence of microplastics. Cadmium is a heavy metal that is known to be carcinogenic and is commonly found in the environment from industrial and agricultural sources. The researchers also found that microplastics were able to damage the roots of the wheat plants by clogging soil pores and preventing water uptake.
Microplastics are fragments of plastic products that are 5 millimeters or less in length, which is about the size of a sesame seed. The influence these particulate plastics have on the environment and human health is still not well understood, and they are a growing environmental concern. While most of the attention microplastics have received is in relation to the amount found in the oceans, a study published in 2016 demonstrates that microplastics actually accumulate more on land surfaces.
Unsurprisingly, there have been microplastics found in Storm Lake, Iowa. These pollutants can be found almost everywhere in the world which suggests we need a better understanding of microplastics and their effect on the environment. We also need to make changes to our behavior to prevent further pollution on top of what plastics have already been deposited across the globe.