Effect of Low-Density Polyethylene Microplastic Particles on Some Biological Properties and Enzymatic Activity in a Calcareous Soil

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Soil science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Zanjan, Iran


Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5 mm that are known as emerging contaminants. Most research about microplastics has been performed in aquatic ecosystems and there is limited information about the effects of these particles on soil biological and enzymatic properties. Therefore, the aim of this research was to evaluate the effect of Microplastic particles on some soil properties included basal and cumulative respiration, microbial biomass carbon as well as soil acid and alkaline phosphatase activity. For this purpose, Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) microplastic particles (diameter 0.5 - 1 mm) added to the soil (1, 2 and 4 % w/w). Incubation times for investigation of soil properties and enzymes activity were 87 and 45 days, respectively. The results showed that the microplastic particles increased the soil basal and cumulative respiration rate. Soil microbial biomass carbon increased during the 3th to 17th days of incubation, but decreased after that when compared to control treatment. LDPE Microplastic particles had a negative effect on the activity of acid and alkaline phosphatase and decreased them. The highest decline was related to the microplastic level of 4%. The rate of decrease in acid phosphatase activity was more than alkaline phosphatase activity. Briefly, the results of the present study showed that the microplastic particles can increase soil respiration, but it has a negative effect on phosphatase activity.


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