Impact of plastic film mulching on microplastic in farmland soils in Guangdong province, China

Plastic mulch films contribute significantly to microplastic pollution in farmland soil; however, their direct impact in areas with high human activity remains unclear due to the presence of multiple pollution sources. This study aims to address this knowledge gap by investigating the impact of plastic film mulching on microplastic pollution in farmland soils in China’s Guangdong province. The study investigated macroplastic residues in soils at 64 agricultural sites, and the microplastics were analysed in typical plastic film-mulched and nearby non-mulched farmland soils. The pollution load index (PLI) model indicated that the microplastic pollution level was in category I and comparatively higher in mulched farmland soils. Polyethylene accounted for about 2.7% of the microplastics, while polyurethane was found to be the most abundant microplastic. The studies revealed that, according to the polymer hazard index (PHI) model, polyethylene posed a lower environmental risk than polyurethane in both mulched and non-mulched soils. Findings from the study reveal that multiple sources other than plastic film mulching primarily contribute to microplastic pollution in farmland soils. This study enhances the understanding of microplastic sources and accumulation in farmland soils, offering crucial information on potential risks to the agroecosystem.

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